Gov. Wolf signs hotel tax bill

Greg Gross
  • York County commissioners could up the hotel tax rate in a couple of weeks

York County commissioners could vote to increase the tax levied on people who rent rooms in hotels in about a month.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law on Wednesday the "hotel tax bill," House Bill 794, now known as Act 18 of 2016 that allows 57 counties, including York County, the option of increasing the tax rate to as much as 5 percent. The current threshold is 3 percent.

Lawmakers sent the bill to Wolf's desk last week.

County commissioners would have to pass their own measures to increase the rate locally and would have to advertise the ordinance before they vote on it.

"I think the commissioners will be passing it in the next two weeks," said Doug Hoke, the vice president commissioner.

Hoke, Commissioner Chris Reilly and Susan Byrnes, the president commissioner, previously said they are in favor of upping the rate.

Hotel tax bill heading to Wolf's desk

Implement: But it may take a few months before the new rate can be put into place and the county starts seeing the added tax dollars roll in.

Hoke said the county would have to alert hotels of the new rate and the hotels would then have to reprogram their systems for the 5 percent rate.

That could be accomplished by July if the county uses an aggressive timeline, he said.

York County uses its hotel tax revenue mainly to fund tourism efforts.

Local proponents of the bill have long argued the 3 percent rate put York County on an uneven playing field  compared to most surrounding counties that have a 5 percent rate. The higher rate in those counties allowed them to spend more on tourism, they said.

York County tourism officials project a revenue increase of more than $1 million, bringing the total to $3.1 million yearly if the rate is increased to 5 percent. About $800,000 of that would be used for a tourism grant fund, which would be distributed annually to several organizations. Another portion would go to one of the largest tourist destinations, the York Expo Center. The remaining money would be used to promote tourism efforts.

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.