YOUNGSTOWN - Mahoning County commissioners voted 2-1 Tuesday to increase the county's bed tax for hotels and motels from 3 percent to 5 percent.
Commissioner Chairman John McNally said 3.5 percent will be given to the Western Reserve Port Authority and the remainder will go into the county's Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The increase goes into effect Oct. 1.
Commissioners earlier tabled the opportunity to table the tax increase after their Feb. 28 meeting following boisterous opposition from representatives of the county's hotel and motel industry.
McNally and colleague Carol Rimedio-Righetti voted in favor of the increase. Commissioner Anthony Traficanti has opposed the increase and voted against it.
Those in opposition have said the move would give parts of the county one of the highest taxes in the region at 14.75 percent.
Mike Naffah of Hampton Inn & Suites in Canfield, who is on the Mahoning CVB, is also opposed to the tax. He said bed tax revenue is up 36 percent in the county so far this year, and he is afraid that the higher rates will drive business down, especially with tour groups, who will go a little bit farther to save 5 percent.
''That's not enough for them. They want more of it,'' Naffah said.
McNally and Rimedio-Righetti said they think the area is poised to capitalize on the shale boom and the extra money to the port authority will ensure that economic development efforts in the area can stay aggressive.
Earlier this summer, Trumbull County commissioners rolled back 1 percent of their bed tax because they were unhappy with a bonus offered to the airport director at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
Director Dan Dickten declined to take the bonus and it has since been rescinded.
In 2010, Trumbull raised its bed tax to 5 percent, with 3 percent dedicated to the authority. Mahoning's rate was 3 percent before Tuesday's vote, which was split evenly between the authority and the convention and visitors bureau.