(Pittsburgh) December 17, 2019 Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said that the County’s 7 percent tax on hotel rooms stays, dedicated to promoting tourism to the County, will close the year with a fund balance of approximately $14 million that could be used to meet community needs.
While significant portions of the funds derived from the tax, which amounted to $37.4 million in 2018 and are likely to exceed that amount this year, are dedicated by law to paying debt on the David L. Lawrence Convention Center and supporting the local tourism promotion agency VisitPittsburgh, about $11 million was available each year for discretionary purposes determined by the County administration. About $9 million in these discretionary funds was allocated each year, primarily to Convention Center operating costs and the County Parks, with the remainder being added to a fund balance that exceeded $12 million at the close of 2018.
Wagner said that based on receipts and disbursements to date in 2019, more than $2 million will be added to that fund balance this year, as well.
While Wagner had advocated for a portion of these funds to be used to support the City of Pittsburgh parks in lieu of a new property tax approved last month, she said they could be utilized to meet other community needs that would benefit residents and visitors alike. She suggested as potential uses increasing public transit service to areas attracting tourism and service industry workers, including supporting the beginning of 24-hour service to some areas; improving transit stops and pedestrian infrastructure; and supporting neighborhood business districts.
“The Hotel Tax is meeting the needs for which it was enacted, and additional revenues resulting from a growing local tourism industry can meet additional pressing needs without placing new burdens on our taxpaying residents,” Wagner said.
View the Hotel Tax Taxpayer Alert here.
MEDIA CONTACT: Lou Takacs