Cumberland County commissioners approved changes Monday to the 3 percent county hotel tax ordinance, clarifying how it can be spent.
In a change that mirrors state law, commissioners clarified that hotel tax receipts can be spent for business travel, promoting conventions and associated travel in the name of tourism.
The tax generates $1.6 million annually and is distributed to Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp.
In addition, the ordinance now gives the county 60 days to distribute hotel tax revenues to CAEDC, which manages county tourism through the Cumberland Valley Visitors Bureau, Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said this morning.
The old ordinance required distribution within 30 days.
The hotel tax has been a source of controversy for commissioners, which began when the Army Heritage Center Foundation requested 20 percent of the hotel tax last July.
Commissioner Barbara Cross, who was sitting on the foundation’s board, resigned from that position due to a conflict of interest. The Army Heritage Center request was voted down 1-1 after she abstained. Eichelberger voted no and Commissioner Jim Hertzler voted in favor.
Hertzler followed that conflict by asking for the review of the hotel tax funds. The ensuing audit turned up no problems with how hotel tax funds are used, Eichelberger noted.
“With the combination of our tourism/visitor promotion agency with our economic development, our county acknowledges and participates in business travel promotion to a degree many visitor bureaus don’t and these functions work in tandem very naturally,” he said via email this morning.