Tourism grants hit broad range of local needs, groups

The Lycoming County Visitors Bureau last week awarded $142,000 in grants to 20 organizations.

The awards are from revenues realized from the local hotel tax.

In all, the latest grants bring the amount awarded through the grant program since 2000 to $872,340.

Those are the facts.

The awards come at a time when the bureau’s transparency and inclusion record have been publicly questioned by state Rep. Rick Mirabito, a Williamsport Democrat who represents our area.

Time for more facts.

The award total represents about 15 percent of the money raised through the Lycoming County hotel tax.

Seven organizations were awarded more than $10,000, the highest single amounts awarded. Those organizations were the Billtown Blues Festival, Community Arts Center, Jersey Shore Borough, Korean War Veterans Anniversary State Reunion, Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum, Preservation Williamsport-Rowley House, and White Deer Golf Course.

The rest of the funding amounts ranging from $7,500 to $2,000 went to the Muncy Historical Society, Lycoming Valley Antique Machinery Association, Repasz Band, Preservation Williamsport’s Victorian Christmas, the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, Lycoming Historial Society, Fanny in the Susquehanna, Muncy Business Association, Williamsport Business Association and Jersey Shore YMCA.

That’s quite a diverse group.

And we wonder, if the control of the money were on a state level, whether the same crosssection of arts, history, community events, facilities and organizations would have benefitted.

Whenever there is a tax of any kind involved, we worry that the revenues from it are being legitimately used. To date, all available evidence suggests that the hotel tax-county visitors bureau marriage is working just fine.