Niagara Gazette

Tourism

March 16, 2009

NTCC: City tourism board moving to cut agency’s annual funding

Niagara Falls Tourism Advisory Board members reiterated Monday they want to strip the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp. of nearly half of its annual budget and spend the money on improving city streets.

“This is not a witch hunt and it’s not a game,” board chairman Jerry Genova said. “This is for real.”

Councilman Samuel Fruscione, who serves as liaison to the advisory board, said he’s meeting with NTCC President John Percy on Wednesday to discuss concerns the area is not getting fair treatment when it comes to advertising and promotions, despite providing the majority of funding.

Fruscione said the City Council will push for state legislation to allow the city keep up to $800,000 of the approximately $2 million it provides NTCC annually in bed taxes and casino funds.

“They’re going to have to start doing more with less,” Fruscione said, adding he believes Percy spends too much on traveling.

Genova pointed out the city used to spend $800,000 a year to fund the old Niagara Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau, whose sole purpose was to fill hotel rooms here. The city now pays more money to the NTCC and receives less in his opinion.

In 2003, the city and county entered into a 10-year agreement to create NTCC, which unified the Convention & Visitors Bureau and Niagara County Tourism. At that time, city officials balked when they learned its revenue from bed taxes would make up more than two-thirds of NTCC’s annual budget.

Since then, NTCC has also started receiving $1 million from the city’s share of casino revenue. Combined with bed tax, the city’s annual contribution is about $2 million on average.

“If I’m giving you the most money, you better be giving me the most attention,” Genova said. “That hasn’t been happening.”

Genova said one of the biggest problems is NTCC and its employees aren’t being held accountable.

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