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Auditing hotel tax

In 2016, the Chamber of Commerce published a directory of its members, entitled “Visitors Guide.” In the front, to justify the name, was a section for the Chamber’s tourist related businesses. That year, the Chamber received $649,000 in hotel taxes designated to broadly promote and market tourism in Lycoming County. Only Chamber members, 192 of them, were listed in the Visitors Guide section which figures out to $3,380 in hotel tax money apiece.

By law, the public tax money received for tourist promotion must be used for that purpose and kept scrupulously separate from the Chamber’s operating funds. Because of the increase to 5 percent in hotel taxes, the Chamber will receive more than $1 million this year. The County Commissioners need to order a forensic audit to determine how public funds are spent and assure accountability.

Jon Bogle

Williamsport

Submitted by Virtual Newsroom

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