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York County, PA Commissioners Propose Raising Hotel Tax:
Hotel Managers May Support if
Tourism Promoted

By Tom Joyce, York Daily Record, Pa.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

May 28, 2009--The York County commissioners intend to ask state lawmakers to increase the tax on hotel rooms from 3 percent to 5 percent.

Commissioner Doug Hoke, who is on the board of the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the money the tax generates would go toward bringing more visitors to the county. He estimates that would come to $1 million a year.

"This is a source of income to help us in our tourism industry, which is very vital and very important," Hoke said.

John Adams, manager of the Budget Host Inn in Springettsbury Township, said that the hospitality industry is going through some tough times and that this might not be the best moment for a tax increase. But the increase would be worth it if it does succeed in promoting tourism.

In Adams' experience, visitors don't generally comparison shop between hotel rates in different counties.

"If they have business here, they usually stay in York County no matter what," Adams said. "At the end of the day, it's probably a good idea if they spend the money wisely."

Hoke said the 5 percent rate now applies in Lancaster and Dauphin counties.

President Commissioner Steve Chronister said that, although the state legislature would have to approve the tax increase, it would apply only to York County. He and the other two commissioners voted unanimously to ask the state lawmakers from York County to take up the issue in Harrisburg.

If it passed, the tax rate would also apply to motels and

bed-and-breakfasts, Chronister said. A major advantage, he said, is that it would be a source of revenue that likely wouldn't come from York County residents.

"Not many of us use hotel rooms in York County," he said.

Anne Druck, president of the Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the county's first hotel tax was 2 percent, imposed in 1998. In 2001, that went up to 3 percent.

Rick Cunningham, manager of the Yorktowne Hotel in York, is also on the Convention & Visitors Bureau board. He said board members have been discussing the proposal for several months.

"As long as the funds are creating tourism, it makes sense to the hotel owners," he said.

In other news:

County commissioners on Wednesday said that they've abandoned the idea of a county sports authority in favor of a county sports commission.

Earlier this month, commissioners heard a proposal by Richard Anzolut, president of the Harrisburg-based sports management firm Tournament Sports Inc., to establish a sports authority in the county.

The authority, Anzolut said, would be a self-financing agency that organized sporting events in the county. He said that, unlike the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which attempts to attract existing sporting events, the new agency would organize new ones just for the county.

President Commissioner Steve Chronister said a commission would do the same thing but with important legal distinctions.

An authority can have taxing and eminent domain power, whereas a commission would not. Also, county commissioners would be able to eliminate the sports commission if they determine it isn't doing its job properly.

tjoyce@ydr.com; 771-2089

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Copyright (c) 2009, York Daily Record, Pa.

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