Harrisburg reaches agreement over tourism dollars

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Nov 23, 2015 3:54 PM

Photo by kev72/flickr

(Harrisburg) -- A dispute between Harrisburg's mayor and a regional tourism agency is coming to an end.

First, the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau will pay $95,000 a year for four years to sponsor the marquee events in the city - the 4th of July celebration, Kipona festival, Holiday Parade, and New Year's Eve festivities.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse wants to spend the money on a new marketing and events coordinator and to cover the actual cost of the events.

"Just that holiday parade over the last weekend took the concerted effort of really my entire staff at the city. Everyone pitching in to make sure that literally the balloons didn't float away and the parade moved in order," says Papenfuse.

The tourism group is also pledging to spend $60,000 a year to market the four events.

"We recognize that they bring in revenue and they are important for the city's image and for the region but we also recognize that we've got to fund them through sponsorships and outside sources than city tax dollars," adds Papenfuse.

The deal settles a long-standing dispute between Mayor Papenfuse and the tourism bureau.

It's set to take effect next year.

But it doesn't address about $220,000 in hotel taxes available to market the city every year.

The committee that decides how to spend that money will soon have two representatives from the city.

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