Non-profit tour in Gettysburg questions why fee exemption has disappeared

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Apr 29, 2015 3:24 AM

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Rourke

In this 2013 file photo, former Governor Tom Corbett speaks during a ceremony commemorating the 150th anniversary of the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery and President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in Gettysburg.

(Harrisburg) -- In the tourism-rich area that is Gettysburg, many groups offer different types of tours, but one non-profit operator feels targeted by a policy change by borough council.

"This is a small little mission that we do here in town just to help people learn about the citizens, what they did, and how the battle affected them as well as the soldiers that they were helping to take care of," says Joan Pore, chairman of the Historic Church Walking Tours in Gettysburg.

Pore says with expenses of about $2,400 last year at the all-volunteer organization, there isn't much room for surprise expenses.

But borough council recently made non-profit tours subject to licensing fees, adding nearly $200 to the group's annual costs.

"We want this to be open for people to be able to bring families and their children and everybody that wants to come and not have it be so expensive,"' says Pore.

Pore wants a tiered system -- so her tour doesn't have to pay as much as for-profit groups.

The chair of the council finance committee, John Butterfield, doesn't like that idea.

"Well I would say it would be an additional administrative burden, and again, I point out that the tax is not on them, it is on the people that they guide," counters Butterfield.

Butterfield says Gettysburg already levies high taxes on residents, so tourists are the next logical place to go.

"Well it is simply a matter of finances. The borough is responsible for safety and all other aspects of tourists that come to Gettysburg," he adds.

Pore says she won't raise the five-dollar ticket prices yet, but she might next year.

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