Attorney drops hotel tax lawsuit

A lawsuit filed against the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, its CEO Vince Matteo and Lycoming County commissioners Jack McKernan and Tony Mussare has been withdrawn.

Bob Elion, an attorney with Elion, Grieco, Carlucci and Shipman, filed the lawsuit on July 1 on behalf of the Lycoming County Citizens for Hotel Tax, alleging the chamber acts against the purpose of the county hotel tax with a “deliberate scheme to exclude all non-chamber entities.”

The chamber announced Tuesday that Elion withdrew his complaint on Monday.

“We are please to be notified that Mr. Elion has chosen to withdraw his complaint … Chamber leadership is still willing to sit with Mr. Elion to discuss his concerns regarding the hotel room tax and look forward to doing so,” said Roger D. Jarrett, chairman of the chamber board.

McKernan said he and Mussare think Elion made the right choice by withdrawing.

“We’re certainly glad that that’s behind us. Neither Tony nor I ever thought there was anything there that was worth being concerned about,” McKernan said. “We’re going to try the best we can to make sure everything with the hotel tax functions the way it should. We try to make sure that everything is done properly.”

Elion said he chose to withdraw his complain due to a lack of resources.

He said he had hoped to get to the “merits” of the case more quickly, but the defendants have “raised several technical grounds to dismiss the complaint,” which may drag the case out for years.

“I’m very comfortable and confident that we have valid causes of action, but it’s apparent that it’s going to take a lot of time and money and effort to fight these technical objections,” Elion said. “Frankly, it may take years before we even reach the merits of the case. I was hoping that we would at least get to the merits of the case so we could address those issues, but we simply don’t have the resources to go forward with the litigation. In a nutshell, it became apparent that it’s the big guy versus the little guy and we didn’t have the resources.”

In response to the chamber’s statement offering to meet and discuss the citizens committee’s hotel tax concerns, Elion said, “I’d be happy to talk to the chamber and commissioners regarding our concerns.”

Elion said people who share the committee’s complaint will continue to bring the issue before the chamber and commissioners. That said, he doesn’t intend to re-file.

“I don’t have any immediate future litigation plans,” he said.