Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 17, 2013

County lawmakers battle over NTCC funding


Niagara Gazette — Updegrove’s statement called out Percy personally, accusing the CEO of “orchestrating” a pro-NTCC lobbying effort by panicked tour attraction operators. Letters supplied by Percy were signed by the operators and mailed to their county legislators.

Percy defended the letter-writing campaign by tour operators, saying more than 60 of them countywide agreed to sign and mail one to their legislator. He added that the campaign got started after a legislator told him that county leaders wanted to hear from NTCC’s “constituents,” not just agency personnel, regarding the value of the county’s contract with it.

Percy said a few dozen operators voluntarily “expanded” on his base letter with personalized testimonials, and statistics showing the growth they’ve enjoyed while being promoted by NTCC. The operators of several wineries, the Maid of the Mist, the Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours, Fort Niagara, the Herschell Carousel Museum and Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises were among them.

“How could I put fear into 60 companies to do this?” Percy asked.

NTCC’s proposed 15-year contract with the county was drafted by agency staff and volunteers including its attorney, Percy, CFO Pamela Fekete and executive board members. It’s largely the same as the existing contract, with a few “tweaks,” Percy said.

Those tweaks include a longer term and — to address critics’ complaints about the legitimacy of agency self-reported statistics on local tourism growth and returns on investments — a proposal to have NTCC’s performance evaluated by an “outside” monitor every three years, Percy said. Terms say that upon a poor performance review, the county could exit the contract and cut off NTCC’s funding.

A one-year extension of the existing contract won’t help NTCC be “proactive” in promoting the county, Percy said. The groundwork for certain programs is being laid three to four years in advance.

“Our constituents, meaning the hotel, attraction and event operators, will suffer greatly if programming is not effective for more than one year,” he said.

use mug of Dennis Virtuoso in the system Dennis Virtuoso Says politics at play

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