Ongoing Clarion County tourism funding issues discussed

Clarion County may be losing up to $100,000 in tourist promotion funds, and county Commissioner Ted Tharan said Tuesday the balance of funds that were provided to the county’s former tourist promotion agency might be a “wash.”

The former tourist promotion agency, Pennsylvania Great Outdoors (PAGO), severed its association with the county last June. Jefferson County also withdrew from the five-county agency.

The county paid PAGO money collected from the county’s motel room tax that PAGO used to promote the region. Tharan has previously said that about $225,000 was in escrow with PAGO and the county hoped to recover that money.

Tharan said during Tuesday’s county commissioners meeting that PAGO had entered into annual contracts and used Clarion County’s contribution to help pay for those contracts.

He said there was about $100,000 remaining with PAGO and he had been advised that might be a “wash.”

The commissioners are anticipating a resolution as early as the end of this month.

The county’s new tourist promotion agency is the Clarion County Economic Development Corp., and that agency awarded a contract to Bull Moose Marketing of Meadville to develop a marketing plan for the county’s tourism effort.

The county currently collects a three percent tax on each motel room rented in the county. That money is then turned over to the hotel tax committee and is disbursed to various organizations.

The latest information from county Treasurer Karyn Montana indicates there is $223,996 in the hotel tax account. The county retains four percent of that amount for other projects outside of the tourist promotion agency’s plan.

Tharan said there is about $225,000 in escrow that the county hopes to recover from Pennsylvania Great Outdoors.

In other business at Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, the commissioners signed a letter of support for the Clarion Hospital’s application for funding under the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP).

The application seeks financial support for the hospital’s renovation project for its intensive care and medical surgical units.

“This renovation project is of paramount importance as several hospital areas have surpassed 30 years of continuous use, necessitating upgrades to meet contemporary healthcare standards,” said the letter. “The intended renovations will enhance patient access and experience and boost staff productivity and motivation, ultimately contributing to the community’s overall well-being,” the letter ads.

Last year, the hospital opened its remodeled emergency room, and the commissioners helped that project by obtaining a $1million Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program (RACP) grant.