Harrisburg mayor disapproves of compromise in Civil War Museum battle

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Nearly seven months after lines were drawn between the National Civil War Museum and the City of Harrisburg, an apparent peace treaty seemed to have died on the battlefield.

National Civil War Museum CEO Wayne Motts, board members and representatives of the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau presented a compromise to Dauphin County Commissioners Wednesday morning.

Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse asked commissioners last July to redirect hotel tax revenue funding from the museum to the city for marketing. Papenfuse said the contract inked by former Mayor Stephen Reed was made in the waning days of his office. The mayor asked the commissioners to revisit the deal and make the appropriate changes.

After a year of failed negotiations, the visitors bureau and the museum said they laid down their swords and proposed they reduce their hotel tax revenue funding and give up to $100,000, or one-third, to the city on an annual basis.

Museum leaders asked commissioners to supplement the $100,000 loss by replacing the hotel tax revenues with the county’s room tax grant program. They asked the funding to begin phasing out in 2019 but be funded through the duration of the current contract until 2023.

Dauphin County Commissioners like the proposal, given that NCWM expand its board members to include more city residents. Mike Pries went as far to say the deal would leave with no losers.

“It’s a win, win, win,” he said. “A win for the Civil War Museum, a win for HHRVB, a win for the city and another win – a quadruple win for the county as well.”

Papenfuse, however, did not view the deal that way. He told ABC 27’s Dave Marcheskie:

“I am glad both HHRVB and the National Civil War Museum seem to acknowledge that they are misusing public funds and must reform, but the appropriate response is not give us more time to keep breaking the law.”

HHRVB said they have attempted to contact the mayor, but he has not returned phone calls. Without Papenfuse agreeing to the deal, HHRVB said the city is leaving upward of $200,000 on the table that could be used towards a spring 2015 marketing campaign.

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