Tax increase to benefit York County

Written by Flint McColgan, York Daily Record | Apr 13, 2016 3:47 PM

FILE - Tina Alexander, of Dover, finishes off a room at the Wyndam Garden Hotel in West Manchester Township Tuesday February 17, 2015. York County says it could get an extra $1 million in tourism money after the Pennsylvania legislature passed a bill Tuesday, April 12, allowing the county to raise its hotel tax. (Photo: Paul Kuehnel, York Daily Record/Sunday News)

The York County delegation has been trying for years to equalize its lodging tax rate to that of surrounding counties. Finally, the measure moves to the governor's desk.

(York) -- York County says it could get an extra $1 million in tourism money after the Pennsylvania legislature passed a bill Tuesday allowing the county to raise its hotel tax.

The bill, which Gov. Tom Wolf's press secretary Jeffrey Sheridan confirmed Wolf will sign, will allow York County and 56 other counties around the state to raise their hotel and other lodging tax limit from 3 to 5 percent.

York County and its delegation to Harrisburg has been lobbying for the bill to pass for at least seven years.

The measure passed the state House with support from the York County delegation and bipartisan support 138-57. It was passed 43-6 Monday in the Senate.

The new allowance could increase the county's tourism revenue to an estimated $2.8 million per year, said Anne Druck, the president of the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

There are about 40 hotel, motel, bed and breakfast and other lodging sites around the county, Druck said.

All three members of the York County Board of Commissioners confirmed that a motion to increase the rate to 5 percent will be brought up in a near-future meeting. The three also said they support the hike.

"It's been a long time coming," said Commissioner Doug Hoke, a Democrat. "I know a lot of people worked hard and I'm glad this process is finally over."

Hoke was the first one to introduce the idea of the York County delegation pursuing an increase here, he and Druck said.

The money will make up somewhat for the decline in state money for tourism promotion from about $20 million per year about six years ago to about $2 million today, said state Rep. Keith Gillespie, R-Hellam Township, the bill's chief sponsor.

The money must be used for the promotion of tourism and to help draw additional visitors and business to the county, which in turn would generate more sales revenue in addition to the hotel tax, said state Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, who promoted the effort in the state Senate.

But Wagner is looking further than just equalizing York County with Lancaster, Adams and Dauphin counties, which had each already raised their lodging taxes in years past.

York County, he said, can also compete with the city of Baltimore for their visitors, at least for hotel stays. The city charges a 9.5 percent tax rate, he said.

"People in my district might ask 'Why are you voting for higher taxes?'" Wagner said. "It doesn't affect York County residents; It affects people passing through .... the only way you're going to pay the 5 percent is if your wife kicks you out of the house and you have to go to a hotel."

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between York Daily Record and WITF. 

Published in News, York

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