MAYVILLE - The Bemus Bay Pops is about more than just Bemus Point and its businesses.
The Bemus Bay Pops is about benefiting Chautauqua County as a whole as well as other agencies, Vince Horrigan told county lawmakers.
County tourism funding was cut from the Pops by the legislature last month. Horrigan and others addressed the body at the start of the meeting to detail the economic impact of the Pops on the region.
"Three hundred jobs, $1.5 million in payroll," Horrigan said. "That's what comes into Bemus Point. Our tax base for the village has increased over the last five years by 25 percent. A guy from Cleveland decided to come in and build a condo project, $14 million in taxbase. In many ways, he looked at Bemus Point and tore down those old fishing cottages and said, 'With what goes on in Bemus Point and with what goes on with the Bemus Bay Pops, this is the place for this economic development.'"
Horrigan continued on to talk about the fundraisers the Pops has held for WCA Hospital.
"The WCA Hospital emergency room, we're all behind it," Horrigan said. "Last year the Bemus Bay Pops fundraiser, $30,000 headed that way. If you haven't seen the Bemus Point stage lately, there's a brand new Camaro floating out there on the water that's going to be auctioned off, raffled off for WCA Hospital. So, again, the hospital is benefiting by this, our churches are benefiting by this."
As a Bemus Point trustee, Horrigan said he was bringing the opinions of the Village Board to the legislature.
"We have yielded a 300 percent increase in rent on our Village Casino because of the success and the amount of people coming in to Bemus Point," Horrigan said. "We have generated that additional income that goes right into our budget to keep the taxes of the village of Bemus Point one of the lowest villages across New York state."
Horrigan concluded his comments by urging the legislature to consider funding what he and many regard as an important economic generator for the region.
"Property taxes along Lakeside Drive in Bemus Point in the recent assessment have gone up drastically," Horrigan said. "And it's because people are flocking to the area surrounded by the economic development that's come from the Bemus Bay Pops. I realize there are challenges across Chautauqua County. I've raised money everywhere, but this economic generator runs an afterburner."
Fellow Bemus Point resident Greg Jones also addressed the legislature about the impact of the Pops.
"I like to call it the 'tourist-pleasing corporation,'" Jones said. "There's far-reaching effects to having the Bemus Bay Pops, the Floating Stage and the Italian Fisherman in our community - and one of those things is that it's a venue for such things as raising money for WCA Hospital.
"I'm trying to think of what other venue in Chautauqua County that we have that has the scenic beauty, the physical facilities, the stage facilities with the sound and the lighting and the food facilities," Jones said. "I just want to say I'm in favor of whatever the Pops does. I think it's well worth supporting. The financial figures are there, but I want to be very specific about the things that the Pops affects other than just Bemus and other than just Dan Dalpra. It's important for our society."
Responding to the comments from the public, Dick Babbage, R-Bemus Point, attempted to restore the county tourism funding to the Bemus Bay Pops.
Babbage's proposal sparked some discussion among members of the legislature, with all who spoke lauding the Pops for what it does and all that it's accomplished.
His amendment, however, was defeated after receiving only 10 "yes" votes and 14 "no" votes.
Legislators opposed to the idea included Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk; Majority Leader Larry Barmore, R-Gerry; George Borrello, R-Irving; Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton; Paula DeJoy, D-Jamestown; Bob Duff, R-Sheridan; Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk; David Himelein, R-Findley Lake; Vickeye James, D-Jamestown; Minority Leader Rudy Mueller, D-Lakewood; John Runkle, R-Stockton; Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia; Bob Stewart, R-Ellington, and Scot Stutzman, I-Jamestown.
In support of the idea were Babbage; Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown; Tami Downey, R-Kiantone; Jay Gould, R-Ashville; John Gullo, D-Fredonia; Maria Kindberg, D-Jamestown; Jerry Park, R-Forestville; Doug Richmond, R-Westfield; Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott; and Legislature Chairman Fred Croscut, R-Sherman. Only 24 votes were cast because one member of the legislature, Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown, was absent from the meeting.