Submitted by Mike Fischer

(Madison County, NY – Jan. 2013) The Madison County Association of Snowmobile Clubs contracts annually with Madison County in order to participate in the state Snowmobile Trail Grants Program. After a recent audit of the statewide snowmobile trail fund, the Office of the State Comptroller released a report including a finding that some local governmental sponsors, including Madison County, “improperly assessed administrative fees on” on snowmobile clubs.

The state requires that detailed GIS information on snowmobile trail routes be provided to OPRHP to participate in the trail grants program. In Madison County, the local governmental sponsor has tasked the Madison County Planning Department with the responsibility of gathering the necessary data and administering the program.

MCASC, on behalf of its member clubs across the county, contracts directly with Madison County for this administration. The contract terms include a fee to be paid by MCASC to Madison County to reimburse the county for a portion of the cost to the county taxpayers for administration of the snowmobile fund and, in particular, the maintenance of the GIS database for the snowmobile trail system.

State law mandates that only local governmental sponsors may apply for snowmobile trail funds under the form of “aid to local governments” but does not otherwise provide funding to the participating entities to recoup any taxpayer expense from managing the program.

MCASC could choose to remit funds to Madison County after receiving the trail fund payments, but has opted to have the funds collected by the county before the trail fund reimbursement grant payment is made to MCASC. MCASC believe this method streamlines the process and reduces the administrative expense to the county, as well as bookkeeping on the part of MCASC.

MCASC does not agree with the characterization in the OSC audit report that Madison County’s administration of the GIS database is somehow improper. The clubs approve the MCASC contract with Madison County each year and believe it is in the best interests of the snowmobile clubs to share the burden of expense of administration of the program at the county level.

Furthermore, the clubs agree that Madison County Planning has been an important partner in the development and maintenance of the countywide trail system. The MCASC member clubs and snowmobile clubs across New York state are suffering from budget woes and would welcome any reduction in expenses, administrative or otherwise.

MCASC does not agree, however, that Madison County did not act in good faith and in compliance with the program guidelines as required by New York state.

MCASC represents the seven independent snowmobile clubs responsible for the countywide snowmobile trail system that includes 300 miles of the most scenic vistas and woodlands in the state. From the shores of Oneida Lake to the windmills of Fenner, from Bradley Brook to Bouckville and from the Erie Canal to Chittenango Falls, Madison County boasts a trail system promising winter enjoyment that is second to none.

Mike Fischer is volunteer publicist for the Madison County Association of Snowmobile Clubs and the Chittenango Polar Bears Snowmobile Club.

By martha

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