A bill that would allow York County to raise its hotel tax rate is moving in the state legislature.
House Bill 1177 passed the Senate 38-12 Tuesday — with all senators representing a portion of York County voting in favor of it — and has moved to the House Rules Committee.
An amendment to the bill would allow the county to increase its hotel room rental tax from 3 percent to 5 percent. Revenues from the tax would go toward tourism promotion.
The hotel tax generates about $1.5 million per year, and an increase is expected to pad the annual collection by about $700,000, to $2.2 million, county tourism officials have said in the past.
County-specific: Sen. Scott Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, added the amendment, which has specific population criteria that affects only York County, said Erin Marsicano, executive and legislative director for Wagner's office.
"But it keeps the door open for the future, if other counties grow," she said.
County commissioners and the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau have been supportive of a hotel tax increase in the past, Marsicano said.
"So basically, York County is one that has a great deal of support for this proposal," she said.
Support: If the bill passes, it would give York County commissioners the authority to put it into action, with a period of time given for the tax to take effect, said Doug Hoke, vice president commissioner.
Neighboring Lancaster, Dauphin and Adams counties have a 5 percent hotel tax, whereas York's has been stuck at 3 percent. The tax would help raise much-needed income from tourism in the county, Hoke said.
"I'm excited to hear that there's been some movement in Harrisburg ... I think it would be good for us," Hoke said.
Uncertain future: State Rep. Ron Miller, R-Jacobus, supports the hotel tax increase but said it has "been put into a bill that may or may not pass."
The bill also has an amendment that would allow Philadelphia to raise cigarette taxes by $2 a pack to benefit schools, and "a lot of people want to vote against that," he said.
There also might be an issue with the way the amendment was put in, Miller said. The language might not be clear enough that the 5 percent tax is not in addition to the current 3 percent tax, he said.
"(The bill) may be dead, or we may be able to save it," Miller said. "We're just going to have to keep fighting the fight." It's not necessarily imperative for the bill to move as part of the state budget, so it's uncertain when it will be voted on, he said.
Commissioners wouldn't be able to use tax revenues for anything but to promote tourism, Miller said.
"The York County Convention and Visitors Bureau has been quite successful with bringing events to York, and the extra money would allow them to be even more so," he said.
— Reach Mollie Durkin at firstname.lastname@example.org.