Overview

Chautauqua County has a five percent (5%) occupancy or “bed tax” for the rental of lodging units within the County. Three fifths (3%) of the revenue that is generated from this tax is utilized to increase tourism, conventions, trade shows, special events and other directly related and supporting activities including business in the county. The two fifths (2%) bed tax is utilized solely for the enhancement and protection of lakes and streams in Chautauqua County. The following Occupancy Tax Grants for Lakes and Waterways offers financial assistance to efforts that enhance and protect the lakes and waterways of Chautauqua County. The Occupancy Tax Grants for Lakes and Waterways, or “2% bed tax”, may be used by not-for-profit organizations, governmental agencies, businesses and all landowners of Chautauqua County.

 

The 2% Occupancy Tax Grant Program is back with a greater focus on projects that will improve recreation and tourism opportunities within Chautauqua County. There are two categories of grants being offered this year: Watershed and In-Lake.

Watershed Grant Program

Watershed Grant Program include water quality improvement projects within the watershed areas of Bear, Cassadaga, Findley, Chautauqua, and Lake Erie. Projects such as streambank and lakeshore stabilizations, stormwater and agricultural runoff management fil well within this program.

2025 Watershed Grant Applications are due

April 1, 2024 by 4:00pm

Successful watershed streambank stabilization project

In-Lake Grant Program

New this year, the In-Lake Grant Program  will deliver funding for “in-lake” maintenance needs on Bear, Cassadaga, Findley, Chautauqua, and Lake Erie. The funding can be used for shoreline cleanup, submerged aquatic vegetation management, invasive species management, harmful algal bloom mitigation, dredging and flood mitigation or other projects that improve the lake’s usability for recreation and tourism.

“Fast-Tracked”

2024 In-Lake Grant Applications are due February 15, 2024 by 4:00pm

2025 In- Lake Grant Applications are due April 1, 2024 by 4:00pm

Available Funds

The minimum grant amount available is $5,000, while the maximum grant amount is $50,000.

Eligibility

• Not-for-profit organizations

• Governmental agencies

• Businesses and corporations

• Public and private schools

          (Watershed Grant Program ONLY)

• All landowners of Chautauqua County

Goose Creek - A 2% project funded in 2015

Funding Agreement

Each project selected for funding will enter into an agreement (contract or agreement of service) with Chautauqua County that defines the obligations of the applicant and the County. This includes, but is not limited to, items such as; reporting, payment schedule, terms of the agreement, use of funds, cancellations, reporting, insurance, disability, and workman’s compensation. During the term of the agreement the applicant must allow access to the project area to the County Watershed Coordinator. Applicants are responsible for securing all permits necessary for work and fulfilling New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) requirements. Funding will only be applied to costs incurred under the agreement after the agreement has been signed.

Project Timeline

All projects awarded 2024 In-Lake grant funding will be finished by December 31, 2024. All projects awarded 2025 In-Lake or Watershed grant funding will be finished by December 31, 2025. Recipients of approved 2% projects that are not completed within the allotted timeframe may request an extension in written form to the Watershed Coordinator explaining why an extension is being requested. The extension requests will be reviewed and a determination will be provided on a case-by-case basis.  Extensions shall not be extended beyond December 31, 2025 for 2024 In-Lake grant funding or beyond December 31, 2026 for 2025 In-Lake or Watershed grant funding.

Reporting Requirements

As the 2% project progresses, reporting with photographic documentation must be submitted to the Watershed Coordinator as defined in the agreement, which is typically at the initiation of the project, while work is underway, and at the completion of the project. All reporting will be consistent with the work plan (scope of services), timeline, and budget submitted as part of the application. Within 60 days of the completion of the project, the applicant must submit a project final report, which includes detailed financial information to the Watershed Coordinator in order to receive final payment.

Selection Process/Ranking Procedures

Watershed Grant Program

All project proposals submitted for watershed grant funding will be reviewed by the Chautauqua County Waterways Panel. The Waterways Panel will develop a ranked list of projects and submit the list to the legislature for their review and approval. They will rank projects based on eight individually weighted criteria. Each member of the waterways panel will independently score and rank each project.

Committee members will meet at least once as a committee to discuss each project where in members may adjust their scores based on peer interaction. Final scores will be compiled by the Watershed Coordinator and results will be provided to each member of the waterways panel to be used to calculate the rank order for each project. The waterways panel will then provide a memorandum describing its deliberations, with the ranked list of projects and suggested funding amounts to the Legislature for their approval.

In-Lake Grant Program

All project proposals submitted for the In-Lake grant funding will be evaluated by a Review Panel. The Review Panel will rank projects based on the quality and content of the narrative, the project’s impact tourism and recreation, and the degree of collaboration with stakeholders.

During the review period, each member of the Review Panel will independently score and rank each project.  Panel members will meet as a committee to discuss each project, where in members may adjust their scores based on peer interaction.  Final scores will be compiled by the Watershed Coordinator and a ranked list with be prepared.  The Watershed Coordinator will then provide a draft Resolution with the ranked list of projects and suggested funding amounts to the Legislature for their approval.

Evaluation Criteria and Weight

Watershed Grant Program

(see Application Ranking and Evaluation form for more details)

  • Water Quality Benefits (15%)
  • Erosion and Sedimentation Control Benefits (15%)
  • Riparian Buffers (10%)
  • Recreational and Educational Benefits (20%)
  • Ecological Benefits (15%)
  • Feasibility (10%)
  • Partnerships and Project Leveraging (10%)
  • Other Benefits (5%)

In-Lake Grant Program

(see Application Ranking and Evaluation form for more details)

Since each of Chautauqua County’s lakes have different needs, it is unrealistic to establish a single scoring rubric that can be applied equitably across all lakes and all projects categories without bias. Because the needs are great and the funding is limited, the In-Lake Program is competitive and applicants are encouraged to submit applications that reach or collaborate with multiple stakeholders to deliver the most impactful projects.

The maximum achievable score for any application if 50 points.

Project Narrative – up to 20 points

Improves Tourism and Recreation Opportunities – up to 20 points

Stakeholder Collaboration – up to 10 points