Sunday, November 27, 2022

Crazy trying to keep up with Warren County gov goings on

By Mark Frost, Chronicle Editor

I attended Friday’s monthly meeting of the Warren County Board of Supervisors. What emerged then and in the days thereafter was more than I bargained for.

The board approved the 2023 budget, rebuffing two attempts to table it by supervisors who wanted the whole board and the public to take a fresh look.

But the budget was upstaged by word that new County Tourism Director Alfred Snow had quit abruptly after two months on the job — and issued a letter blasting county officials on his way out.

Amid the drama, little noticed was that Friday afternoon — after an executive session following the regular meeting — the County Board hired a new County Administrator, John Taflan, at a salary of $120,000.

He succeeds Ryan Moore, who left to become CEO of Behan Communications.

The Chronicle on Monday night reached Kevin Geraghty, the Warrensburg Supervisor who chairs the county board. He said three applicants were considered.

He said Mr. Taflan had “applied once before…while he was still working for the NSA [National Security Agency]…and I think…the board was more comfortable and felt that he was the best choice.”

But it’s Tourism Director Mr. Snow’s sudden and immediate departure that is dominating conversation.

Mr. Snow sent county Human Resources Director Jackie Figueroa a letter — now in supervisors’ hands — attacking county officials and decrying spending.

“I feel that I have been deceived and lied to regularly,” Mr. Snow wrote in part.

He “summarize(d) some key objections” he has to tourism expenditures.

One involved LakeGeorgeTV. He objected to “awarding of $300,000 a year contract without a competitive bid.”

He faulted hundreds of thousands of dollars going to the Lake George Chamber/Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Mr. Snow wrote that in 2021 the CVB received $480,000 in Occupancy Tax funding but “only produced 13,346 definite room nights…with a total Occupancy Tax collected by those room nights of $130,791. This amounts to a loss of $349,000.” (His bolding.)

In 2022, Mr. Snow wrote, “funding…was increased to $550,000. The organization produced only 11,015 definite room nights (DECREASE of room nights produced]…This reflects a loss of $461,000.”

Mr. Geraghty expressed shock at Mr. Snow’s departure, who he said had not complained to the supervisors.

On the CVB funding, Mr. Geraghty said Mr. Snow should have met with supervisors and the CVB and “try to work through some of these equations that he came up with.”

Mr. Snow objected to money the county planned to spend with “Loud Media,” calling it “a local broadcast station [that] does not have the broadcast strength to promote Warren County to potential visitors that will pay occupancy tax.”

Mr. Geraghty said the funding for Loud Media was tabled and isn’t being provided after all. He said Glens Falls station WCKM objected to it. Mr. Snow’s letter said WCKM is a stronger station willing to provide the same services “AT NO COST” (his capital letters).

Mr. Geraghty said LakeGeorgeTV is a project of Look TV (TV 8) owner Jesse Jackson and that, yes, it is being funded with $300,000.

Mr. Snow’s hiring was backed by Mr. Geraghty and the board’s establishment core, as well as by hotel interests in the CVB that Mr. Snow now faults.

When the initial job description required a college degree and Mr. Snow turned out not to have one, the requirement was eliminated over objections of some supervisors who called it unfair to candidates sidelined for lack of it.

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