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Tourism Development District Act will benefit Jefferson County

By Staff | Feb 21, 2020

Recently, the West Virginia Senate passed the Tourism Development District Act.

Sponsored by Senator Patricia Rucker, the act will help expedite large tourism projects within smaller municipalities that might lack the resources and expertise to handle them themselves. For the project to qualify, it must be located in a municipality with 2,000 or fewer residents and have a budget of over $25 million.

We have an immediate need for the bill, which is currently working its way through the House of Delegates. Senator Rucker’s proposed legislation will kick-start building of the Hill Top House hotel in Harpers Ferry, which has been mired in local political discussion for over 13 years. While the proposed legislation allows the state to assume temporary oversight of the project, it ensures that Harpers Ferry and Jefferson County will reap all the benefits.

Unfortunately, opponents of the bill have tried to scare residents of Shepherdstown into opposing the legislation. Senator John Unger (D-16) is on record as saying the bill was written by a gambling lobbyist and could be used to build a casino within town limits.

Neither statement is true. Senator Unger knows full well that bills are written by their sponsors and lawyers in Charleston, and there is absolutely no interest in building another casino anywhere close to town. It’s unfortunate that a sitting state senator would use untruthful statements and fear tactics to justify his opposition to a bill that the majority of his constituents support.

Tourism in Jefferson County is an almost $1 billion industry, and if we want to continue to see it grow we must fully support projects like the Hill Top House, which is estimated to generate over $26 million per year in taxable revenue for the county once it is built and fully operating. In addition to the economic benefits, Jefferson County will be able to boast about having two world-class resorts within our boarders. The Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown and the Hill Top House in Harpers Ferry.

It is disappointing the Hill Top House has languished for so long, but the Tourism Development District Act has seemingly breathed new life into the much-needed project. I applaud Senator Rucker for the action she has taken to move Jefferson County and West Virginia forward.

As a candidate for West Virginia House of Delegates, I fully support and endorse both Senator Rucker and the Tourism Development District Act.

Mark Everhart is member of the Shepherdstown Town Council and a Republican candidate for West Virginia House Of Delegates in the 67th district. He can be reached at mark@everhartforwv.com.