TPA Race Tightens

In the winner-take-all race for the Warren County Tourism Promotion Agency designation, the Warren County Visitors Bureau took a big step into contention Monday night.

In September, the Warren County Commissioners approved a resolution naming the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry (WCCBI) as the TPA for 2014. The TPA receives the hotel bed tax revenue for the county – typically $115,000 to $150,000.

The change will not become official unless municipalities representing more than half of the population of the county also approve it. If the resolution does not receive that support by the first of the year, WCVB will retain the TPA designation.

WCCBI had taken a big lead after Warren City Council approved the commissioners’ proposed resolution earlier this month.

Glade Township also approved the resolution.

The Pine Grove Township supervisors approved a resolution presented by the Visitors Bureau formalizing their support for the organization.

On Monday, Conewango Township joined the ranks supporting the WCVB with the supervisors voting unanimously against the commissioners’ resolution.

“We went for the Visitors Bureau,” Supervisor Chair Linda Swanson said. “We’ve never heard any complaints. Who really gave us a reason (to change)?”

That was good news for the WCVB, represented at the meeting by Chuck Johnson.

“We are very pleased the Conewango Township Supervisors took the time to thoroughly investigate and review everything before voting, and feel it is a positive step toward keeping the Warren County Visitor Bureau as the TPA, and keeping the Visitor Center in Starbrick open,” WCVB Board President Karen Sobkowski said on Tuesday. “We have been pleased with the amount of interest shown by the municipalities and hope they will also give the same consideration to the facts surrounding this issue.”

President and CEO Jim Decker, and board of directors members Bill Wagner and Robert Sokolski represented WCCBI at the Conewango Township meeting.

“We are disappointed in not being able to show the Conewango supervisors how combination of scarce resources and elimination of duplicate efforts… provides for improved delivery of enhanced programming for the benefit of all of Warren County,” Decker said. ‘”We remain hopeful that this message will prevail and the difficult but appropriate decision rendered by the commissioners will ultimately be understood and embraced.”

Of about 40,000 residents of Warren County, about 9,700 live in Warren, 2,300 in Glade, 2,700 in Pine Grove, and 3,600 in Conewango.

Municipalities that do not approve the commissioners’ proposal, either voting it down or simply taking no action, effectively vote in favor of WCVB remaining as the county TPA.

Both the WCVB and the WCCBI addressed the Sheffield Township supervisors in October, but the issue was not on the agenda and the supervisors did not act. Sheffield has about 2,100 residents.

Earlier this month, the Mead Township supervisors, representing about 1,400 people, considered the commissioners’ proposed resolution and did not approve it.

The approximate count, with Warren and Glade for WCCBI and Pine Grove, Conewango, Mead, and Sheffield for WCVB is Chamber, 12,000, to Visitors Bureau,10,200.

Pleasant Township – with more than 2,400 residents – has tabled the issue twice.

The county’s largest remaining municipalities are: Columbus Township (2,000); Brokenstraw Township (1,900); Youngsville Borough (1,700); Sugar Grove Township (1,700); Freehold Township (1,500); Pittsfield Township (1,400); and Farmington Township (1,300).

The rest of the municipalities – Bear Lake, Clarendon, Sugar Grove, and Tidioute boroughs, and Elk, Spring Creek, Eldred, Southwest, Deerfield, Triumph, Limestone, Watson, and Cherry Grove townships – represent only about 4,000 people or about 10 percent of the population.