Senate OKs tax revenue for city conventions

Maryland Watch

March 19, 1997

The state Senate gave final approval yesterday to a bill that seeks to settle a long-running dispute over Baltimore's efforts to promote the city's convention center.

The bill caps the city's hotel tax at its current 7.5 percent for the next five years and would require the city to dedicate 40 percent of the tax revenue to promoting the convention center. That would amount to about $4.6 million in the next fiscal year.

Legislators pushed the proposal to make sure the convention center is marketed well enough to attract a steady flow of conventions and tourists. Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke supported the bill, which now goes to the House of Delegates.

For years, leaders of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association have pleaded for more money. They said they struggled to compete with other cities that spent two to three times as much as they had.

Baltimore has been one of the few U.S. cities without a dedicated source of funding for its convention bureau. Before the legislature intervened last spring by letting the city use state highway fees and other money to finance the agency, its budget was $2.8 million a year.

Pub Date: 3/19/97

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