Warren County Supervisors Reject Plan To Prevent Civic Center Auction

Aug 8, 2014

A last-minute attempt by Warren County to halt the sale of the Glens Falls Civic Center at a public auction scheduled for later this month has failed.

In a special meeting of the Warren County Board of Supervisors Occupancy Tax Committee Friday morning, Committee Chair William Kenny of Glens Falls called for discussion on a proposal that would have Warren County towns surrender a share of county occupancy tax revenues to support operations of the Glens Falls Civic Center. The arena is set to be sold later this month in a public auction. The venue has long been losing revenue, and has been a financial burden on the city.

Supervisor Kenny wanted to see the arena stay public.

“It was a last-ditch effort to try and fund the Civic Center, that’s all,” said Kenny.

The discussion surrounding the proposal was brief. It was not voted on.

The supervisors present expressed interest in trying to help the Civic Center, and there was a general agreement that the arena now home to another new American Hockey League team and other events is a regional asset, but there was a reluctance in stepping in 10 days before the public auction.

Members of the committee said they didn’t want to make a motion that could have an impact on the public auction set for the 18th.  

“I think we need to let the process play out, and I think we really can’t come to any conclusion until after this auction goes through,” said Horicon supervisor Matthew Simpson.

Queensbury town supervisor John Strough was in agreement and said “it would be helpful to wait and see.”

“Am I open, as I have been, and I’ve been made public many times to some kind of solution because I do look at the convention center as a regional asset? Yes. And I’m still interested. But it’s very difficult to go out to the public at large and ask them for certain solutions when there’s that question mark, ‘What’s going to happen on the 18th?’’

Warren County’s 4 percent tax on hotel beds provides revenues to communities for marketing efforts and tourism promotion.

Kevin Geraghty, Warrensburg town supervisor and Chair of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, spoke up from the audience, saying that the proposal for towns to give up their $30,000 share of occupancy tax revenues would disproportionally affect smaller communities that rely on the funding.

“It may not hurt the ones who get  a larger tax base and a larger amount of sales tax money, but you take communities that rely on this to promote…I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” said Geraghty.

But Geraghty thinks a solution can be worked out in the future.

“You know, there’s $3.5 to $3.7 million worth in occupancy tax collected every year. I think we can redistribute some of that funding to make this work,” said Geraghty.

Lake George business owner John Salvadore suggested the county establish a convention and sports authority, backed by occupancy tax revenues in accordance with a 2006 proposal. He said an authority could take out bonds and purchase the Civic Center.

“They could issue $1.3 million  worth of bonds and go in and buy the Civic Center in a pre-auction sale,” said Salvadore.

Salvadore’s suggestion was dismissed by the committee.

With the committee choosing not to provide more funding to the Civic Center days before the auction, Chairman William Kenny said he’ll also have to wait.

“We’ll wait and see what the auction brings,” said Kenny.