WATERLOO — An effort to amend the 2021 Seneca County tourism promotion budget failed at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
The 2020 county budget includes 90 percent of the revenue generated by the county’s room-occupancy tax, or $434,824.25, to be given to the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce, the county’s official tourism promotion agency. Fayette Supervisor Cindy Lorenzetti made a motion to alter a measure containing seven proposed amendments to the $70.3 million county budget.
Her resolution was to allocate $434,824.25 to tourism promotion in 2020 and also in 2021, thus negating the 90 percent agreement. Paul Kronenwetter of Seneca Falls provided a second.
“I believe this flat amount is fair, and so do some others involved in tourism,” Lorenzetti said.
“But 90 percent of the room tax was already OK’d by this board, so I will vote no on this and I urge others to vote no as well,” replied board chairman Bob Shipley of Waterloo; Bob is Jeff Shipley’s father.
Lisa Hochadel of Waterloo asked if the current board can use the 2020 budget to commit to a dollar amount to a 2021 spending plan.
“One board can’t bind another board for a different budget year. That’s a problem,” agreed County Attorney David Ettman, noting that Lorenzetti’s amendment would need two-thirds approval because there was no prior notice that it would be proposed. “That’s not specifically in your rules of order, so we go to Robert’s Rules, which require a two-thirds approval.”
That meant Lorenzetti’s proposal needed 352 weighted votes. It received 341. Lorenzetti, Kronenwetter, Bob Hayssen of Varick, Ernest Brownell of Junius, Walt Prouty of Ovid, and Don Trout of Waterloo voted yes.
There were 186 weighted votes against the measure. Shipley, Hochadel, Michael Reynolds of Covert, and Ron McGreevy of Tyre were opposed.
Ten of the 14 board members attended Tuesday’s meeting. Greg Lazzaro and Ralph Lott of Seneca Falls, David Kaiser of Romulus, and Lee Davidson of Lodi were absent.
“Let’s move on,” Bob Shipley said. “If you want to change it next year for 2021, have at it.”
The original motion to approve the seven amendments and adopt a final 2020 county budget passed by a 9-1 vote. Lorenzetti was opposed.
No one commented during a public hearing on the budget at the start of the meeting.
The tax rate for 2020 had been proposes as $4.28 per $1,000 of assessed value, a drop from $4.42 in 2019. However, county Manager Mitch Rowe, in response to a budget workshop and concerns from some board members, agreed to keep the tax rate at $4.42 and increase the tax levy, thereby using $325,000 less from the tax reduction reserve fund.
The budget also specified the other 10 percent of the room-tax revenue would go to four entities in 2020: Seneca White Deer, $10,000; Cayuga Lake Watershed Network, $5,000; Seneca Watershed Inter-Municipal Organization, $5,000; and the Sampson State Park Dog Show, $5,000.