Population distribution is key to outcome of TPA proposal

Municipalities representing more than 50 percent of the county’s population are required to approve the Warren County Commissioners’ plan to designate the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry as the county’s Tourism Promotion Agency as of Jan. 1.

The Warren County Visitors Bureau is the current TPA.

Looking at a population density map of the county, that leaves open some pretty intriguing paths to approval.

Fifty percent of the population is 20,908 people.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2010 census reported the population of Warren County at 41, 815.

The largest two population concentrations are the City of Warren at 9,710 and Conewango Township at 4,594.

The seven largest municipalities in terms of populations, including the City of Warren and Conewango Township, are Pine Grove, Pleasant, Glade, Sheffield and Columbus townships.

The Pine Grove Township Supervisors made their decision on Tuesday, approving a resolution that calls for the WCVB to remain as the TPA. Pine Grove is the third largest municipality in the county with a population of 2,695.

If the six remaining largest municipalities all pass a resolution authorizing the commissioners’ action, the 50 percent threshold will have been met with 22,211 people.

However, if only one of those remaining six vote in favor of the WCVB, especially if the one is not Conewango Township or the city, the rest of the county’s municipalities would need to be near unanimous for the change to be approved.

The vote could also come down to the City of Warren.

If the rest of the county is split relatively evenly; that would put about 15,000 on each side, leaving city council to cast the deciding vote.

Without the city’s vote, municipalities covering two-thirds of the rest of the county would have to vote in the affirmative.

What does it all mean? The commissioners have some people to convince in order to get this done.

“We’ve been asked to attend (meetings) by some of the municipalities,” Commissioner Chairman Stephen Vanco said on Thursday. “We will attend as much as we can… and we’re making contacts to try to explain what led to this decision.

“It was 18 months making this decision trying to work with both organizations. (We) felt this was the decision we had to come to.”

Vanco emphasized that the commissioners “have not targeted specific” municipalities in terms of seeking support.

The Warren County Commissioners enacted a resolution last month to change the county’s official Tourism Promotion Agency from the Warren County Visitors Bureau to the WCCBI. Along with the designation is approximately $140,000 in Hotel Occupancy Tax revenue that must be allocated specifically for tourism.

“If they (municipalities) do support the commissioners, (we) would still have time for the members of both boards to try to work out a joint organization,” Vanco added. “The option is still there.”

He explained a resolution of that nature would typically be approved early in the year and the commissioners took action in September to leave that option on the table.