LOCKPORT – Mayor Michael W. Tucker, never a big fan of the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corp., wants Lockport to stop sending money to the county’s official tourism promotion agency.
The 2013 city budget will contain no money for the NTCC, Tucker said last week.
He intends to shift the roughly $90,000 sent to the agency into another account to pay for the city’s proposed marketing and communications director and his efforts.
But John Percy, head of the NTCC, said the state law that allowed Lockport to begin charging a 4 percent “bed tax” on hotel and motel bills also requires Lockport to send 75 percent of the proceeds to his agency.
Tucker said, “I haven’t heard anything from John Percy. I never hear anything from John Percy. That’s part of the problem.”
The agency’s primary funding source is the bed tax charged in Niagara Falls hotels, but Lockport and Niagara County have the same 4 percent levy. The county’s tax applies only at lodgings outside the boundaries of the three cities.
Percy said, “We can appreciate Lockport’s intention to minimize any tax burdens or budget deficits by finding new revenues. However, the distribution of the bed tax funds is mandated by state legislation.”
“We have some work to do. I understand that,” Tucker said. “I never had a Plan B before. I think our city has grown to the point where we need a marketing director.”
Corporation Counsel John J. Ottaviano said the state law doesn’t refer specifically to the NTCC, merely to a nonprofit corporation under contract with Niagara County to promote tourism.
County Legislature Chairman William L. Ross, C-Wheatfield, said the county has no plans for another tourism agency.
The NTCC resulted from a merger of the county’s tourism office and the old Niagara Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau.