CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield County Commissioners on Tuesday were asked to consider a two percent increase in the county’s hotel room occupancy tax.
During public comment, the commissioners heard from Susan Williams, chair of the county’s Recreation & Tourism Authority board, and Belinda Snyder, general manager of Best Western, Clearfield.
In 2016, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law Act 18, which allowed counties to increase the hotel room occupancy tax from three percent to a maximum of five percent.
Williams said throughout 2016 and into early 2017, 32 counties raised their hotel room occupancy tax to five percent. Clearfield County did not.
She said if the county would raise its occupancy tax, it would allow the CCRTA to revive its grant program possibly as soon as this fall, as well as to increase its marketing efforts.
“… We’re the perfect place to visit,” Williams said. “We’re in the middle of nowhere, and we have plenty of tourism opportunities.”
Snyder agreed. She said hotels – located off Interstate 80’s Clearfield exit – have pretty comparable rates within a few dollars.
She said if the county would raise its occupancy tax to five percent, guests may see a hotel room rate increase of $1.70, which wouldn’t be “much of a concern” or enough to keep them from booking.
Snyder said guests would probably only see a real noticeable change in rates during “Penn State weekends” but will still book Clearfield hotels because of the higher booking rates right in State College.
Before COVID, Williams said the county lagged behind its surrounding counties. She said Clearfield County’s occupancy rate was always around 50 percent while its neighbors came in around 54 percent.
“I would love to see Clearfield County catch up or even surpass it,” she said. “We have a lot to offer here.”
The commissioners said they will take the CCRTA’s request under advisement, and also encouraged hotels, which haven’t already done so, to apply for COVID-19 Hospitality Industry Recovery Program (CHIRP) funding.
In other business, the commissioners:
- approved an agreement with Lexis-Nexis Prison Solutions to provide inmates electronic access to legal research via iPads.
- approved a purchase of service agreement with LifeSpan Family Services and Community County Services.
- approved a rental agreement with the Clearfield County Fair & Park Board.
- approved a service agreement with BMP Systems.
- approved agreement with CenClear Child Services to implement and administer the Family Reunification Program.
- approved four new hires, six employee separations/retirements and two employee transfers.
- approved the minutes from the March 23 meeting as presented by the chief clerk.
- approved the bills as presented by the Controller’s office.