Youngsville: Keep WCVB as tourism agency

Youngsville Borough Council shot down a resolution by the Warren County Commissioners to transfer tourism “bed tax” funds from the Warren County Visitors’ Bureau to the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry Monday evening.

A number of representatives from the WCVB made presentations to council, including board member Marty Hinton, who owns Deep Wood Vacation Home Rentals.

Hinton said, ” In the 17 years I have been a member of the Visitors’ Bureau, because of the Visitors’ Bureau, I’ve increased my number of units from seven units up to 13. I’ve more than doubled bedroom capacity. When we started with the bed tax, it was approximately $60,000 a year.”

“Right now, we’re up over $130,000 a year. It’s doubled. And that is a tribute to what we do to market it, and that is bringing people in from out of the area, staying in the hotels. They go to the restaurants, they go to the antique shops and the art galleries,” he added.

WCVB board member Jim Roth said, “The the reason this whole thing came about, is the commissioners came to us and asked for a letter of approval to increase the room tax to 6 percent.” He added that the WCVB wouldn’t write one because they didn’t think it was necessary.

Commissioner John Eggleston replied, “They’re correct. I went to their board and said ‘we’d like to get some traction with this with our state legislature. We’d like a letter of support from you. That was the final straw. For ten years we’ve been wrestling with them, and they can talk all they want about how nice all the plans are.”

“They won’t cooperate with anybody that doesn’t fit into their idea of what they should be doing,” he continued. “They’ve had really excellent board members who’ve just up and left in disgust because they have a hard core who have their own view of things, and they’re not interested in cooperating with anybody else.”

Eggleston noted that Erie County had a special bill through the legislature approving a 7 percent bed tax.

“Here’s the point. I went to the County Commissioners’ Association and convinced a lot of very conservative county commissioners that this was an issue of fairness. All of the counties in Pennsylvania should be able to charge the same thing. Why should one county get a special legislation that allows them to charge 7 percent?”

“At that time, the county commissioners adopted the resolution that I took down there and made this a part of their legislative program, he added.”

After a heated discussion amongst audience members died down, the council took a quiet vote, after insuring that newly-appointed council member Troy Clawson was familiar with the issue and comfortable with voting, Eric Mineweaser made a motion to approve the commissioners’ resolution, and Doug Peterson seconded it, after a pause.

Mayor Jim Farr called for a voice vote, then asked for a roll call vote. Mineweaser and Peterson voted to approve the resolution, while Steve Morris, Pam Olewine Erik Leamon and Clawson voted no. Council member Rob Olson was not present at the meeting.