MORGANTOWN — The Monongalia County Commission voted Wednesday to extend its efforts to assist the Visit Mountaineer Country Convention and Visitor’s Bureau in light of the ongoing pandemic.
In July, the commission began passing its half of the county’s lodging taxes on to the CVB to help the agency weather COVID-19’s impacts on the tourism industry.
The CVB has taken a number of steps in response to the reduction in revenue along the way. In the early going, all but the executive director’s position was furloughed, laid off or eliminated. A number of those positions have since been restored. The agency also closed its High Street visitor center.
The lodging tax is 6% of the cost of a hotel room, which is divided evenly between the taxing body — counties and municipalities — and their local CVB.
Wednesday’s vote marks the second time the commission has voted for a three-month extension to this arrangement.
Commissioner Tom Bloom, who represents the commission on the CVB’s board of directors, estimated the additional 3% in lodging taxes represented about $36,000 over the first three months and $75,000 in months four through six.
Commission President Sean Sikora called the situation a “chicken and egg argument,” as in order to bring in the people who spend the cash that supports the CVB, you have to have the CVB promoting the area.
“I think it’s money well spent,” Sikora said.
Also Wednesday, the commission approved the $497,440 bid from Aqua Pool to overhaul the nearly 70-year-old Camp Muffly swimming pool.
The county construction crew will tear out the existing pool and build the accompanying shower facilities.
Sikora said he’s hopeful the project can get started in early spring, though those details are not finalized.
Money for the project is coming from the county’s portion of the recreation levy passed by voters in 2016 and renewed in 2020.
Lastly, the commission will sit as the county’s board of equalization and review Feb. 1, 4, 9, 12 and 18. The board is the body before which county residents can question their property taxes.