MEDIA ADVISORY: Councilman Drozd Calls for Changes to the Hotel-Motel Tax

PITTSBURGH - At tonight’s regular meeting of County Council, Council Member Matt Drozd will call upon County Council consider a re-work of the Hotel-Motel Tax to create an alternative organization to be named as the “Tourist Promotion Agency” for Allegheny County.

Pursuant to the Tourist Promotion Act of 2008, it is within the powers of the local governing body, County Council, to create a tourist promotion agency by resolution for the purpose of carrying out promotional programs and projects designed to stimulate tourism for the region.

The dedicated Tourist Promotion Agency currently receives 40% of the 5% of the revenue generated by the Hotel-Motel tax. The current Tourist Promotion Agency, Visit Pittsburgh, has raised concerns for Councilman Drozd regarding the use of such funds.

According to its website, Visit Pittsburgh received $7,924,251 in 2011 and $7,036,528 in 2010 from hotel tax revenues from Allegheny County. Councilman Drozd requested reports from the organization and found that approximately $4,000,000 was spent on salaries and bonuses. This amounts to over half of the revenue received from the tax, which must be dedicated to “promotional programs designed to stimulate and increase the volume of conventions and visitors within the county” according to the Second Class County Code.

“I believe that it is my and other elected officials duty to make certain that our agencies and authorities are being good stewards of the taxpayer’s hard-earned monies,” said Mr. Drozd.   “Time is now of the essence to evaluate the benefits being received from investing such large sums of hard-earned tax dollars in this agency.”

“I would like to ensure that public funds are administered efficiently and in the manner intended. This is part of my broader intent to scrutinize the use of tax-payer money by all government agencies and agencies that utilize these resources to ensure that the citizens of this County are garnering the best possible benefit from dedicated public funds.”

“I welcome input from members of Council, the business community and the public on this topic,” he added.