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 public agencies, private organizations, or residents of Chautauqua County.

2024 Applications are due April 1, 2023 by 4:00pm.

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Available Funds

The minimum grant amount available is $500, while the maximum grant amount is $40,000. Projects will be evaluated and ranked for the Legislature by the Chautauqua County Waterways Panel based on the individual merits of the project (see evaluation criteria below).  The Waterways panel will provide the ranked list of projects to the County Legislature by May 31, 2023, who holds the right to deny funding to any and all projects. Funding for projects will not be available any earlier than January 1, 2024. Funded projects must begin and demonstrate measurable progress within one year following funding approval. Applicants from previous years that have not demonstrated measurable progress will not be considered for the current funding cycle. The County Watershed Coordinator, Dave McCoy will evaluate project progress and provide the Legislature a progress report as necessary.


• Project located in Chautauqua County and demonstrates clear evidence as to how the project will provide a public benefit.

• Not-for-profit organizations

• Governmental agencies

• Businesses and corporations

• Public and private schools

• All landowners of Chautauqua County

Goose Creek - A 2% project funded in 2015

Evaluation Criteria and Weight

(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 (5%)
  • Ecological Benefits (15%)
  • Feasibility (15%)
  • Partnerships and Project Leveraging (15%)
  • Other Benefits (10%)

Selection Process/Ranking Procedures

All project proposals submitted for 2% occupancy tax 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.

Detailed Ranking Criteria Description

1. Water Quality Benefits (15%): The water quality benefits derived from an individual project reflect the ability of the project to remove and capture pollutant loads from runoff prior to discharge into downstream waterbodies. Those projects that are specifically designed to provide a high level of treatment to currently untreated runoff from a large drainage basin or point source discharge would receive a high score. Conversely, those projects with little or no real water quality benefits receive a score of zero. In assigning scores in this category, the total suspended solids (TSS), total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP) loads, or other pollutants removed are to be considered by the reviewer in a qualitative fashion and scored based on the expected result of the project.

2. Erosion and Sedimentation Control or Stormwater Reduction Benefits (15%): Projects that are designed to provide a long-term remedy for severe erosion problems or the reduction of stormwater flows will receive a high ranking score. Projects that have the secondary benefit of reduced potential for erosion or lesser reductions in stormwater flows will earn an intermediate score depending on the magnitude of benefits. Projects that have little or no effect on the remediation of erosion and sedimentation or reduction of stormwater flows will be assigned a score of zero.

3. Riparian Buffers (10%): Riparian buffers are considered the most effective and lowest cost means of protecting and enhancing water quality.  The width of the buffer and the number of species (grasses, shrubs and trees), especially native species are factors that increase functionality of buffers.  Projects with wide buffers and diversity of the plants and trees within the buffer will score highest.  Projects with no buffers and grass monocultures will be assigned a score of zero.

4. Recreational and Educational Benefits (5%): This criterion ensures that waters most valued by the public or having the potential for public use receive consideration. Public support and awareness helps ensure funding and may indicate citizens’ willingness to collaborate for control efforts. Projects that provide opportunities to create or enhance recreation and education for the general public will be rated based on; 1) their ability to have value as a demonstration project or; 2) provide for enhanced recreational opportunities. Projects that combine the fore mentioned criteria and have long-lasting benefits will rank highest, while projects that do not provide for these benefits will be assigned a score of zero. Features to consider could be: nature centers, websites, active outdoor classrooms, fishing, boating, public workshops and symposiums, manuscripts/ journals/ pamphlets, and interpretive exhibits and kiosks.  Though this committee acknowledges the potential contributions of proposed projects toward recreation and education, the enabling legislation stresses protection and improvement of lakes and waterways. Therefore this criterion is weighted less than the others that directly protect and improve water quality.

5. Ecological Benefits (15%): This ranking criterion can ensure that waters of ecological value get consideration in the decision process. These waters might include waters of aquatic / fisheries value, primary nursery areas, outstanding resource waters, and protected streams, wetlands, or rare, threatened and endangered (RT&E) species. The potential ecological benefits of an individual project are ranked based on evaluations of the anticipated improvements to habitat that will be realized by implementing the project. Factors for evaluation include; quantified effects on the project on NYS or federally recognized resources and the longevity of ecological benefits with required maintenance.

6. Feasibility (15%): This ranking criterion is a measure of public benefit and the relative severity of obstacles that must be overcome to implement the project. Determining a score is a cumulative assessment of factors such as: public vs. private property, property easement acquisition, permitting requirements, impact or disturbance to nearby residences, long- term maintenance and operation requirements, completeness or status of project planning design and maintenance, phase of the project relative to past and/or future funding, and relative ease of construction. A high ranking would be assigned to projects significant public benefit with no foreseeable implementation concerns related to any or all of these issues. A low ranking would be assigned to projects which would have a high degree of difficulty and little or no public benefit.

7. Partnerships and Project Leveraging (15%): Partnerships and project leveraging is a quantitative measure of the various funding and in-kind support from other vested organizations. Factors to consider include: The ratio of partner contributions to the funding request (1:1, 2:1, etc), how many project partners are contributing to the grant request, and the number of partner categories (state/federal government, local government, NGO, university, watershed group, etc.) involved in the proposed project. Projects that have high ratios of other sources of funding (monetary or in-kind) with several project partners of various categories will receive the highest score. Projects with no documented partners or leveraging will receive a score of zero.

8. Other Benefits (10%): This evaluation criterion allows the reviewer the ability to examine the overall project and determine if other benefits exist that have not been addressed in the other sections. The reviewer will rely on professional judgment when applying a score to this criterion. Other project screening factors to consider:

A. Project contributes to the implementation of an existing watershed management plan

B. Cost of the project relative to the benefits derived

C. Synergy with other restoration, research, or maintenance projects

D. Public and Neighborhood acceptance

E. Logical precedence: Some projects may rely on the prior completion of other projects, or a project might not function at its intended capacity unless implemented in conjunction with another project

F. Experienced based ranking: the ranking of a project may sometimes be based exclusively or primarily on the judgment of experienced managers, governing bodies, other officials, citizens, and anyone else who may be involved in the decision making process

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 will be finished by December 31, 2024. 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.

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.