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City may seek formula for hotel revenue

February 02, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The Hagerstown Mayor and City Council are scheduled Tuesday to discuss whether a formula should be put in place to determine how much of Washington County's hotel-motel tax proceeds should go to the city, Mayor William M. Breichner said Friday.

Breichner said he thinks the state should pass legislation mandating the portion of the money that goes to the city. The city has not decided what the allocation formula would include, he said.

The Washington County Commissioners can choose whether to use the more than $200,000 in hotel tax revenue on joint projects with the city, as it has done in one previous year, or to allocate a lesser amount like the $5,000 it provided for the current fiscal year.

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The issue will be discussed at a 4 p.m. work session Tuesday when the body is scheduled to talk about its Maryland General Assembly legislative priorities, Breichner said.

Breichner is also scheduled to meet with the local delegation to the Maryland General Assembly on Wednesday in Annapolis to discuss the hotel tax issue and other legislative matters.

The Maryland General Assembly in 1999 approved legislation to increase Washington County's hotel tax from 3 percent to 6 percent.

Forty-five percent of the money generated by the increase goes to the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau. The rest goes to the County Commissioners, with some of it earmarked for debt reduction.

By law, some of the proceeds must go to tourism attractions, to enhance economic development or to support cultural and recreational projects.

When the tax was increased, some felt the money should be used to pay for a proposed new stadium for the Hagerstown Suns. No stadium was built.

In 2001, groups wanting hotel tax money for tourism projects questioned why hotel tax proceeds were going to county and joint projects with the city, with no process in place for other groups to ask for money.

Last year, the Hagerstown City Council asked for $270,000 in hotel tax money and received $5,000.

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