Commissioners: Hotel tax spending out of their hands

Any changes to Lycoming County’s hotel tax use would have to be done by state legislation, not by an act from county commissioners.

State Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, has proposed increasing the county’s hotel tax and using extra funds to pay for services such as public safety and road work.

Mirabito also suggested the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau be separated from the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, of which it is an affiliate.

He points to Adams County, where hotel tax money is used to fund some police departments. That county also maintains a separate tourist promotion agency and chamber of commerce.

“The county commissioners have the authority to change the TPA tomorrow,” Mirabito said Thursday evening at a town hall meeting in Old Lycoming Township.

But, according to county code, Lycoming County cannot change how it uses hotel tax money.

And it apparently has no intention of doing so, or changing what organization manages tourism promotion.

Commissioner Jeff Wheeland said the board of commissioners is satisfied with the visitor bureau’s role, adding that changing how hotel tax money is spent is out of their hands.

According to the state’s county code, Lycoming County only may use hotel tax funds for convention marketing, leisure and business travel marketing, advertising, publicity, publications, direct sales and industry trade shows.

It also may use the funds for projects that promote tourism efforts and improve and expand the county as a destination market.