Aug 26, 2014

HARRISBURG – City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to request that the Dauphin County Commissioners suspend transfer of funds from hotel tax revenues to the National Civil War Museum.

Dauphin County shares with the City of Harrisburg a portion of hotel tax revenues that are to be allocated for marketing and promotion of the city. The National Civil War Museum receives a large portion of the funds that Mayor Eric Papenfuse says should be spent to promote the entire city.  He called upon City Council members to join him in asking commissioners to stop funding the museum.

“Together, we can send a strong message to Dauphin County Commissioners,” Mayor Papenfuse said. “They contribute $1 a year to the city, while the fair market rent for the building is over $500,000.”

“An unelected, unaccountable board is controlling millions of dollars of city assets,” Papenfuse said.  “The city just can’t afford this any longer.”

“We are wresting control of what we own,” City Solicitor Neil Grover told the Council, “to give it back to the people of Harrisburg.”

Mayor Papenfuse said the city pays for maintenance of the building and the hotel tax is used to pay for salaries and basic operations, a misuse of the hotel tax revenue that is supposed to be used for marketing and promotion of tourism.

Council members also strongly supported the Mayor’s demand that the museum’s board be accountable to the city and its people.

Council President Wanda Williams said the makeup of the board should be closely scrutinized, and she questioned whether its members were acting in the best interests of the citizens of Harrisburg.

Councilman Ben Allatt called for museum representatives to come before the city council in a public hearing to answer questions about their use of taxpayer funds.

“There should be a certain degree of accountability,” Allatt said.

For more information, contact Joyce M. Davis at jdavis@cityofhbg.com; or call 717 255 3015.


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