Just by way of introduction, I have created millions of dollars in tourism revenue between timeshare sales, timeshare rentals, hotel room rentals, vacation club sales, attraction sales, and event sales. That in no way makes me special since a number of people in places like Newport, Hyannis, and Mystic outperformed me then and probably still do now. It is to say that here in Utica, I am probably in the top 10 in those categories. That should make my tourism experience valuable.
What I am about to present talks to making tourism here what it could be. Again, my goal is not to be mean or negative by suggesting changes to the way things are currently done. It is instead an attempt to maximize tax revenue.
We have to acknowledge that it is a problem. We have to get control of the problem. We have to let the world know we are making progress. When people Google us, this is the number one thing that might make them choose somewhere else. We rally around this issue and we can be that place that other municipalities just coming to grips with their addiction problem look to for answers.
- County Wide Standards
We should look at county wide design and mater plan standards. We should do what we used to do in Newport. Grab some people from outside Oneida County. Put them in vans. Drive them into the County in all the different ways that you might get here. Ask them their opinion on the different routes. Try to find out what is missing and what is needed. Fill in the gaps using set design standards so we speak as one group of people to the outside world.
- Reducing the Sales Tax by making the not for profits more accountable
I know the lie you’ve been told. “If we reduce the sales tax, the property tax will become unmanageable for most”. The sales tax is what scares away investment and growth. If we were growing, and your income was also growing, you wouldn’t even think about the property tax.
One of the reasons our sales tax is so high is we all support a number of not for profits that are not accountable. The system here is bizarre compared to a lot of places. Not for profits must achieve set goals or change strategies in order to achieve set goals. If they cannot produce results, why are forcing taxpayers to pay for their existence?? That’s not how free market capitalism works.
That does not mean we pull a Kansas, which they just reversed, and cut everything. It does mean we pay attention to what the free market does and does not do naturally. When the free market seems disinterested, a not for profit or government itself should fill in the gap. However, just throwing money at a not for profit and not checking the quality of the work is wrong.
- Art and Food Exportation
Everyone who visits me here is immediately impressed by the people, the art, and the food. I really cannot export people without violating Federal law. However, we should look at ways we can support the free market by assisting culinary folks and artists in the task of delivering what they produce to other tourist communities.
One of the side benefits to this is that prices in those markets will be higher making our culinary and art industries that much more profitable. Once folks discover what our people can do, they will want to visit where our people do it. That would be right here. When they visit, who collects the sales tax revenue?? We do.
- The Quickening
Things at Harbor Point have to move faster. We have to offer another set of drinking and culinary establishments targeted at the overnight guest. It is not by accident that Varick is dead the night before the Boilermaker. It is not by accident that hotels in Syracuse have had higher APRs the last 4 Boilermaker weekends, and probably every weekend previous if I bothered to check, than our own hotels.
When I first came here, I saw Varick Street as part of “the problem”. I was wrong, it is not. The problem is Varick Street is asked to perform in a way that it cannot. People like me have to stop asking Varick Street to be something it is not intended to be.
Therefore, it is up to us critics to establish the missing ingredient. That would take place at Harbor Point. Because we realize all sales tax dollars generated lower property taxes no matter where you are in the County, this is now a County wide issue.
If elected as the Legislator representing the 22nd District, I promise to make the whole County feel included in the tourist solutions we are going to propose.
If you want to learn about current trends in Oneida County tourism, please visit here.