GOSHEN – Orange County is considering using some federal relief money from the American Rescue Plan to help promote tourist attractions and businesses large and small – including Legoland.
The topic came up at a recent news conference in Wurtsboro hosted by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer. Spectrum News reported that Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus, who spoke during the March 31 event, mentioned the county is considering using some of the money to benefit Legoland.
But Orange County spokesman Justin Rodriguez on April 2 said it’s a little too early for details on how the county may choose to use this funding for tourism. Questions about that “might be premature,” Rodriguez said.
“The Senator said some of the money might be available for tourism. If that is the case, we (the county) would advocate it to be used for small Main Street type businesses, as well as larger attractions such as Legoland, Woodbury Commons, West Point and Storm King,” said Rodriguez.
A spokeswoman for Schumer’s office confirmed to the Times Herald-Record on April 2 that the money can, in fact, be used for tourism purposes, since it is considered to be an industry hard-hit by the pandemic.
Neuhaus would ultimately make the decision on how to spend the money on tourism after consulting with the county Legislature, the county’s Tourism Department and the business community, Rodriguez said.
It is estimated that Orange County could receive $74.6 million in federal relief, but a final figure has not been made available, according to information shared by Rodriguez from the county’s finance department.
Orange County should receive the first half of its allotment within 60 days of President Joe Biden signing off on the relief order, which took place March 11. The second half should be distributed no earlier than a year after the first portion.
Spending plans uncertain
“We are evaluating the federal aid but no responsible government would go on a spending spree,” Rodriguez said by email in response to questions on the subject. “The private sector is still recovering.”
He added that the county anticipates about $37 million in revenue losses and expenses due to the pandemic, including major revenues such as sales tax, state aid, hotel and motel taxes and gaming income.