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Delaware County Removes Chamber Tourism Contract

Written By Editor on 11/23/21 | 11/23/21

By Matthew Avitabile

The Delaware County Board of Supervisors convened on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving to discuss the tentative budget.

It was the first meeting since the elections, and was highly anticipated due to a potential discussion on the granting of the County’s tourism contract. 

The meeting opened with a COVID update from Mandy Walsh in consideration of the coming holidays. There were three deaths Monday with 74 total in the County since the beginning of the pandemic. There are 265 active cases and 366 people in quarantine.

“Vaccinations are the way to go,” said Supervisor Wayne Marshfield of Hamden.

Halfway through the meeting came the most contentious issue, the tourism contract. Supervisor Dennis Valente of Davenport lauded the Chamber’s efforts in the field. The Supervisor Chairs the Economic Development Committee.

“As you all know, tourism is through the roof,” Valente said. “They’re doing a good job.”

Chair Tina Mole of Bovina also spoke, saying that tourism promotion is key to the county. She said that due to New York City watershed restrictions, tourism is especially important. Mole cited the iDA’s efforts, including the use of funding for tourism projects. She said that these made the “role of the TPA more important” in attracting visitors. She said that the original arrangement of having a single person coordinating tourism promotion.

“However, with the current Chamber administration, that relationship has waned.” She added that there was less cooperation between the County and Chamber, with the former “receiving unsatisfactory” responses from the Chamber. Mole said that there has been an effort over the last two years to improve relations with Chamber President Ray Pucci. She described the relationship as difficult, accusing Pucci of making “disparaging remarks” and said that the County is disappointed in this.

She described the “damage done” as “irreparable” and recommended not renewing the contract with the Chamber.

Supervisor Pat Davis of Middletown said that he has been raising concerns since February. “There was no open dialogue in my mind,” he said. He stated that he believes there are remaining funds the Chamber has not utilized for such purposes.

“We should have a very open relationship,” he said.

Davis requested that the $139,000 remaining in the Chamber’s budget should be returned. “Did the Chamber spend this money in the first six months of this year?” The answer came back yes, but said that there were no financial reports indicating this.

“The silver lining is that we’ve found other options,” he said. The Supervisor requested this money be sent out through a request for proposals. He said that he has run against Chamber Board Chair Todd Pascarella twice. He described the Chamber as a “political recruitment” tool to “run against sitting Delaware County Supervisors.”

Supervisor Wayne Marshfield said that there was “nothing new” in Pascarella seeking Town Supervisor. 

Supervisor Valente said that the funding for tourism development is not just received from the County but through various streams. 

Supervisor Jim Eisel of Harpersfield, who sits on the Economic Development Committee, said that he disagreed with stances of the Chamber, including on marijuana opt-outs. He said that the Chamber “should not be involved” in such cases.

During the budget hearing, there were no public comments and the Board considered a salary provision of $14,159 for the members of the Board of Supervisors and $65,000 for the chair. 

Supervisors Valente, Marshfield, and Kosier voted in favor of retention, while the remainder of the Board voted no.

The Budget was approved unanimously.

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