Harford County officials and organizations large and small are once again advocating for a hotel and motel tax, hoping 2012 will be the year they finally get it.
The so-called "room tax" came close to becoming a reality this year, but the Maryland General Assembly ultimately voted it down after the tax got tied to property tax forgiveness for The Village at Carsins Run retirement community in Aberdeen, which raised an uproar. The Village at Carsins Run has since pulled out of its project in Aberdeen and has put its property up for sale.
Several of Aberdeen's city council members have indicated they are ready to renew the fight for the tax, and the packet presented by Harford County Executive David Craig during a meeting with the county delegation Wednesday was filled with 17 letters from different groups on behalf of the tax.
Supporters included the Economic Development Advisory Board, Center for the Arts, Swan Harbor Farm, Cedar Lane Sports Foundation, Harford County Tourism Advisory Board, Vancheries Union Avenue Café in Havre de Grace, Lantern Queen Riverboat in Havre de Grace, Clark Turner Companies, Aberdeen Economic Development Commission, Hilton Garden Inn in Aberdeen, Architectural Design Work Inc., Greater Baltimore Committee, the Vandiver Inn in Havre de Grace, Harford County Public Library, Harford County Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Bel Air.
Aberdeen Mayor Mike Bennett also told the delegation Wednesday the city still needs a room tax.
According to the position statement from the Economic Development Advisory Board, which recommends such a tax go directly toward tourism-related activities and marketing, "to remain competitive as a county and as a region, Harford County's infrastructure must include tourism resources."
Center for the Arts wrote, "Harford County is the only county in the State of Maryland that does not have a lodging tax… The failure to take advantage of such a resource will mean the loss of substantial economic opportunity."
Nick Patel, of the Hilton Garden Inn, wrote, "As a hotelier, we do not believe this will negatively affect our business [but] in fact will improve our business immeasurably if the funds are dedicated to tourism marketing."