Washington County leaders hope tourism can boost economy
Tourism will hopefully be the “economic development engine for the whole county,” Washington County Commissioner Diana Irey Vaughan said Tuesday.
But Irey Vaughan said blame the courts, not the commissioners, for property tax reassessments coming.
Irey Vaughn made her comments as the Mon Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted the Washington County Commissioners for a roundtable discussion to update economic development efforts in the county. The noon event was held at the Charleroi Elks Club.
Fellow commissioner Larry Maggi said the recent merger of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and Washington County Tourism gives the new organization the freedom to do what the commissioners envisioned — bring visitors from other areas into the county. Both organizations were duplicating efforts, Maggi said.
Those efforts are funded through $1.2 million in hotel tax revenues, Maggi said.
Charleroi businessman and former councilman Mark Alterici is chairman of the new tourism board.
But Irey Vaughn made it clear that the three commissioners, including Harlan Shober, did not vote for the court-mandated property tax reassessment.
“None of us wanted to see this happen,” Irey Vaughn said.
The county will spend $7.9 million on the reassessment, which will take effect in 2016, she said.
“It's not good,” Maggi said. “There are things that are going to go wrong.
“The people who will get hurt will be here in the Valley — senior citizens who do not have the savvy to fight it.
“I think it's $7 million of wasted money.”
Washington County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jeff Kotula, who served as moderator for the event, said, “Nothing hurts business more than higher taxes. I applaud you three for fighting the good fight.”
On another subject, Shober said the Mon River Industrial Group plans to convert the former Allenport steel plant into a light industrial park could be a boon for the Valley, provided it brings “the right kind of jobs.” Shober said the county has been working with the developers for two years to bring large companies, especially in the Marcellus shale industry.
“If you do not bring in the right businesses, it won't bring the spark we need here in the Valley,” Shober said.
Maggi agreed with Kotula's assessment that Monongahela Valley Hospital and California University of Pennsylvania were “bookends” for the Valley's economy.
“I think a community hospital like Mon Valley Hospital is essential to the area,” Maggi said.
“We realize what Cal U and Mon Valley Hospital bring to the area and we're committed to both.”
Ten projects in the Valley received more than half of the $6.2 million in Local Share Account funds awarded by the commissioners last week.
The Local Share Account Review Committee hears presentations for projects, then makes recommendations to the county commissioners for a portion of the gaming revenue from The Meadows Racetrack & Casino in North Strabane Township.
Irey Vaughan said the Valley was a bigger winner among the LSA awards because the need for infrastructure meets one of the key criteria.
“The Valley is blessed to have people so active who contacted us about what needs they have here,” Irey Vaughan said.
Shober said Marcellus shale is a great economic impact in the county that is slowly making its way to the Valley.
He said environmental concerns are being addressed by the state, referencing tougher regulations under Chapter 78. Irey Vaughan said the county has received $10 million in royalties from Marcellus shale drilling and only faced two issues: a contained spill and the accidental cutting down of some trees.
The commissioners applauded the River Towns Initiative, a multi-community effort to promote the region.
Charleroi Borough Manager Donn Henderson said the three commissioners regularly attend the River Town meetings.
“We need to focus on recreation along the river for economic growth, Irey Vaughan said. “There's so much charm in the Valley. The Valley has so many unique venues.”
Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Local homes tour will benefit Belle Vernon Area’s anti-drug program
- Deteriorating Monessen building under renewed scrutiny
- Mon Valley Leathernecks tackle Toys for Tots drive
- Holiday movie gives Cal U students get 2 seconds of fame
- Century-old Christmas tradition catching on in Mon Valley
- Holiday spirit alive & well in Mon Valley
- Christmas Cheer Club initiative benefits needy Mon Valley kids
- Holiday shopping season off to early start in Mon Valley
- Recalling ‘White Friday’ storm that paralyzed Mid-Mon Valley in 1950
- Small Business Saturday events grow