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MAHONING VALLEY Officials check on use of hotel bed tax

By John Goodall

Sunday, April 13, 2003

The convention and visitors bureau boards have not reviewed the idea.
WARREN -- Mahoning and Trumbull county officials are investigating if funds collected by the counties' tax on hotel rooms could be used to support the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
By law, money collected by the hotel room tax goes to each county's convention and visitors bureau, and is spent to promote tourism.
The Mahoning County prosecutor's office has been asked to research if it would be legal for the convention bureaus to then move some money to the Western Reserve Port Authority, which owns the airport, said Mahoning County Commissioner Vicki Allen Sherlock.
Possible ways the money might be used by the airport could be to promote use of the airport, or toward developing such projects as the indoor racetrack being considered by the port authority.
Conceivably, it could also be used to reduce the county's subsidy of airport operations. This year, each county is being asked to contribute $247,000 just to keep the facility running.
"I think this is a good idea," said Trumbull County Commissioner Joseph J. Angelo Jr. "It would bring the airport money, and the money they would get wouldn't come from a local group; it is coming from people using the area."
The idea has not been discussed with members of the boards that run convention and visitors bureaus in either county.
Trumbull County collects 2.5 percent tax on hotel rooms, raising about $323,000 a year. Mahoning County collects slightly less money on a 3 percent tax.
The idea has not been discussed with convention bureaus in either county, officials say.
Angelo said he would favor raising the tax in Trumbull County to generate funds for the airport, if legally possible.
In Mahoning County, Sherlock said she would rather see it happen without raising the tax.