Sullivan County Visitors Association contract up in the air

By ANNEMARIE SCHEUTZ
Posted 10/20/20

Many contracts with Sullivan County have been renegotiated this year, as the county grapples with an ongoing financial crisis. Now it’s the Sullivan County Visitors Association’s (SCVA) turn, with almost $1.6 million in allocations up for discussion.

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Sullivan County Visitors Association contract up in the air

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MONTICELLO, NY — Many contracts with Sullivan County have been renegotiated this year, as the county grapples with an ongoing financial crisis. Now it’s the Sullivan County Visitors Association’s (SCVA) turn, with almost $1.6 million in allocations up for discussion.

The county does not want to end its relationship with SCVA, said county director of communications Dan Hust. And it doesn’t want to stop promoting tourism.

“Chairman Doherty seeks to renegotiate the terms of the contract with the SCVA, as the current terms were negotiated prior to this legislature being seated,” he said.

There’s significant money at stake. The county’s allocation to the SCVA has gone from $575,000 in 2017 to $1,595,000 in 2020. There was a big spike at the end of 2018, where it jumped $390,000 under the previous legislature. That was also the year a new visitors’ center was authorized in the Town of Thompson.

In the last few years, Resorts World Catskills and the Kartrite resort have opened, and the visitors association has received grants. President/CEO Roberta Byron-Lockwood reported a 15 percent increase in traveler spending in 2018. Tourists also bring in sales tax dollars.

The visitors association moved into a 3,800 square foot headquarters in Liberty this year.

In an opening salvo, the resolution declares that the “Sullivan County Legislature has now elected to review tourism promotional services in totality and as such prefers to be free of any obligations in this area.”

It notes that originally the agreement could be terminated without cause by giving 90 days’ written notice to the SCVA, “with an opportunity for the visitors association to be able to fulfill its obligations that exist as of the date of receipt of the notice.”

Thursday’s resolution (as of Tuesday at 4:13 pm) tightens the time period for obligation-fulfillment (and presumably negotiation), from 90 days to 60 days.

It also calls for the SCVA “to engage in discussions with county representatives in an effort to forge a new agreement.”

The Executive Committee will discuss and possibly vote on the resolution on Thursday, October 22. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. in the legislative hearing room, and is also livestreamed at http://sullivancountyny.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx.

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