AIN Asks: Should Saranac Lake Give $37,500 to ROOST?

On the agenda for the village of Saranac Lake’s upcoming meeting on Monday, June 28, there is a proposed $37,500, 3-year contract with the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST). This is the first time a 3-year contract for tourism marketing has been proposed to the village. If approved, the contract will exceed the terms of three current board members: Mayor Clyde Rabideau, who sponsored the bill, and trustees Kelly Brunette and Melinda Little.

In case you didn’t know

  • ROOST is the tourism contractor for Essex and Hamilton counties. The organization has a budget that exceeds $3 million.
  • As part of the proposed contract, ROOST did not submit a budget to the village outlining how the $37,500 would be spent.
  • According to Saranac Lake Village Clerk Kareen Tyler, the village doesn’t have a single receipt or invoice on file related to current or previous ROOST contracts.
  • In 2019, the Franklin County board of legislators rejected ROOST’s proposal for a contract, citing several concerns that included the organization’s failure to provide detailed budgets.
  • The Harrietstown town council has twice rejected proposed ROOST contracts, most recently in April. Council members also cited a lack of detailed budgets as one of their concerns regarding how the organization operates.
  • Franklin County currently has a tourism contract with the Franklin County LDC, which is funded through the county’s occupancy tax. In short, that’s a tax added to short-term rental stays, like hotels and AirBNB. Occupancy tax does not come from the county’s tax base.
  • The $37,500 contract proposed to the village of Saranac Lake is local taxpayer money. 
  • None of the issues we addressed in the video are included in the capital improvement plan that was provided to AIN by village manager John Sweeney.
  • AIN has sought information related to how ROOST spends taxpayer money in the village of Saranac Lake. So far, ROOST CEO Jim McKenna and ROOST Chief Operating Officer Mary Jane Lawrence have refused to answer our questions. The full story is coming soon.

Go deeper

Leave a Reply