Don't call it a tax.
Elected officials and administrative officers from Harford County and its three municipalities met at Havre de Grace City Hall for the Quarterly Elected Officials meeting to discuss how to frame the proposal of a hotel tax to legislators.
"We should be asking for a tourism promotion bill," said Wini Roche, manager of the Harford County Office of Tourism.
The revenue from a hotel tax would be split into tourism promotion and project grants, including the possibility of a county convention center.
There was no discussion on how much the tax would be, but several business owners believe it should be more or less a 5 percent tax on the price of a hotel room.
Harford is the only county in Maryland that does not have a hotel tax, a fee tacked on every time a customer pays for lodging. If the state delegation passes enabling legislation in Annapolis, then municipalities in Harford County can levy a tax.
Aberdeen Mayor Michael Bennett, Bel Air Mayor Eddie Hopkins and Havre de Grace Mayor Wayne Dougherty support a hotel tax.
"Being in business for 37 years, it never detered us from going anywhere. It never detered any of our clients from traveling with us," said Dougherty, who ran a tourism business with his wife.
The Harford County Economic Development Advisory Board is making a grass roots effort to push legislators to support a revenue source for tourism.
"Our legislators need to understand it is not a new tax. They are already paying the tax. They are paying that tax when they travel anywhere. When they travel to Harford County, they are not helping our residents with our budgetary needs," said Steve Johnson, director of the Aberdeen Economic Development Commission.