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Bed tax grant program opens Feb 1

JAMESTOWN — The Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development announced the application period for the 2018 2 percent Lakes and Waterways Grant Program and 3 percent Tourism Product Development Grant Program will open on February 1, 2017.

Applications will be available online at www.co.chautauqua.ny.us and at www.planningchautauqua.com.  Hard copies of the applications will also be available at the offices of the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development at 201 West Third Street, Suite 115, in Jamestown during normal business hours.  The Occupancy Tax Grant Programs are funded through the County’s 5 percent occupancy or “bed tax” for the rental of lodging units within the County.

“While most New York counties collect an occupancy tax, Chautauqua County is unique in the way we reinvest a portion of the revenue through the 3 percent Tourism Product Development Grant Program and the 2 percent Lakes and Waterways Grant Program,” said Vince Horrigan, Chautauqua County Executive.  “This is a unique and sustainable initiative with a double bottom line, where we are drawing more tourists into Chautauqua County and enhancing the quality of our lakes and waterways.”

The 3 percent Program helps to fund the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau, the United Arts Appeal of Chautauqua County, as well as local attractions such as the Fenton History Center and the Historical Society of Dunkirk.  Last year, the 3 percent Tourism Product Development Grant Program provided grants to support the Dunkirk Air Show, the PGA LECOM Health Challenge at Peek’n Peak, the Lucy Town Half Marathon, Grape Discovery Center, and 10 other tourism related initiatives. This, in turn, brought thousands of people into Chautauqua County to enjoy these attractions and events.  Applications for the 3 percent Tourism Product Development Program will be due on Oct. 15.

The 2 percent Program funds the Lake Erie Management Commission and has supported water resource projects, including the dredging of the boat launches in Barcelona, Dunkirk and Cattaraugus Creek Harbors as well as the rehabilitation of the Dunkirk Seawall that protects the City’s water filtration plant.  Since its inception, the 2 percent Lakes and Waterways Grant Program has delivered an additional $2.2 million in water quality improvement projects across Chautauqua County.  These grants will provide $500 to $40,000 in funding for individual projects to be implemented from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2018.

“Generally, projects located within the Lake Erie, Bear Lake, Cassadaga Lakes, Findley Lake, and Chautauqua Lake watersheds are eligible,” said Dave McCoy, Chautauqua County Watershed Coordinator. “In the past, applications were available in May and due at the end of June and then evaluated during the summer.  This year, the application and scoring process are moved forward in order to take better advantage of New York State funding offered through the Consolidated Funding Application (CFA) process.  Historically, the CFA process opens in late May and closes at the end of July.  Applications for the 2 percent Lakes and Waterways Grant program will be available on February 1 and must be submitted by April 1, which allows enough time to submit a well-written and coordinated application in advance of the CFAs.”

By making these changes, there is potential to use a locally funded $40,000 Lakes and Waterways Grant Program project to leverage New York state dollars into a project with a value of $160,000, bringing $120,000 of additional investment into Chautauqua County.  Applications for the 3 percent Tourism Product Development Grant Program and the 2 percent Lakes and Waterways Grant Program may be submitted by various groups and organizations, including: not-for-profits, governments, businesses/corporations, public or private schools, and all landowners of Chautauqua County.

“We have funded some very beneficial and creative projects since the Occupancy Tax Program’s inception,” said Horrigan. “Chautauqua County has a lot to offer for visitors and tourists and these two programs will continue to have beneficial economic and environmental impacts.”

For more information, call Dave McCoy at 661-8915.

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