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Harford starts collecting hotel tax March 23, revenue grant application process open

Harford County will begin collecting its new 6 percent lodging tax on March 23. Local organization promoting tourism activities have been invited to the county to apply for grants from the tax revenue.
Harford County will begin collecting its new 6 percent lodging tax on March 23. Local organization promoting tourism activities have been invited to the county to apply for grants from the tax revenue. (MATT BUTTON | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Collection of Harford County's first lodging tax will begin later this month, and the county government has begun taking applications from local public and private nonprofits for grants from the revenue that will used to promote and implement tourism-related activities.

The county will begin collecting the tax on March 23, county government spokesperson Cindy Mumby said Tuesday.

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The 6 percent on hotel and motel room rentals of less than 30 days was approved in January by the Harford County Council.

The tax is expected to bring in about $2.75 million annually, according to figures presented to the council when it was considering the tax legislation.

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Proceeds from the tax will be funneled to public and private nonprofit organizations committed to planning and implementing tourism-related activities.

The application period opened Monday and will end April 17. Grant awards will be made on a competitive basis, subject to the availability of funds, according to a county government announcement.

Grants can be used to provide general program and operation funding for cultural, historical, agricultural, eco- and sports tourism and heritage events for the fiscal year 2016, the announcement states. Applicants must have 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(6) status under the IRS Code.

"I look forward to investing county revenue from the hotel lodging fee to support tourism-related activities and promote economic growth," Harford County Executive Barry Glassman said in a statement. Glassman sponsored the lodging tax legislation, which set up the process to use the money for tourism-related grants.

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The Harford County Economic Development Advisory Board has designated a Tourism Activity Review Committee to focus on providing non-municipally allocated revenue from the hotel lodging fee to support tourism-related programs and operations that further enhance Harford County as a premier tourism destination, Monday's announcement notes.

Lodging tax revenue collected from hotels within the county's three municipalities – Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace – is being turned over each to them to disperse. Mumby said it is up to the individual municipality to set its own grant process.

Mumby also said county representatives have met with local hotel and motel representatives to go over the tax collection process.

Applications for the county grants are available online at http://www.harfordcountymd.gov and http://www.harfordbusiness.org. Paper copies are available at each branch of the Harford County Public Library.

Two informational workshops will be held: Monday, March 16, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at the Office of Economic Development at 2021 Pulaski Highway in Havre de Grace, and Thursday, April 2, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the second floor conference room of the main county office building at 220 S. Main St. in Bel Air.

Interested applicants are being encouraged to attend one of the workshops, where applications also will be available.

To register for a workshop, request an application or for additional information, contact the Office of Economic Development, 410-638-3059.

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