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Corbett signals acceptance of hotel tax enabling legislation

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After its long slog to his desk ended late last week, Gov. Tom Corbett plans to sign House Bill 1588 allowing Adams County to raise its hotel room tax from 3 percent to 5 percent, spokeswoman Kelli Roberts said.

Legislation of this nature does not directly raise taxes but effectively gives a county the authority to increase a local levy assessed when visitors pay for a hotel rooms within its boundaries.

There were some questions and ambiguity last year whether Corbett would go for such proposals considering his general stance against raising taxes.

The governor is signing off because the law would enable local authorities to make the change themselves to provide money specifically for the given community and its tourism industry, Roberts said.

State Rep. Dan Moul, R-Adams County, proposed the bill in May 2011 after his first effort ran out of time during the previous two-year legislative cycle.

He said he is happy the bill has gotten to the finish line with the help of lawmakers backing hotel tax legislation for counties they represent.

"Elated is probably the more accurate word," Moul said.

The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg is approaching, so Adams County needs the additional promotional and support resources created by added tax revenue to fully leverage the milestone, he said.

Significantly diminished state support in recent years is a primary reason why county tourism stakeholders, including Moul, have sought permission for local officials to raise their respective taxes.

Elsewhere in the midstate, similar legislation has been proposed for York County to raise its tax to fund tourism promotion efforts.

House Bill 2239, proposed by state Rep. Ron Miller, R-York County, has remained in committee since he proposed it in March, according to the state's legislative website.

In addition, there is talk of raising the levy in Lancaster County as stakeholders seek funding solutions for the downtown convention center in Lancaster.

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