The tourist sales surtax tax is applied to hotels, motels and short-term rentals, and would increase beach-restoration revenue to $2.25 million over the next three years.
Tourist Development Council
Gov. Rick Scott was in campaign mode in a visit to Flagler Beach Monday as he criticized Flagler’s Rep. Paul Renner, a fellow-Republican, for introducing a bill that would eliminate Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida.
Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida are two tax-supported state agencies that act more like slush funds, wasting money behind secretive veils and returns on investment that have never lived up to the promise.
The $15.8 million is not necessarily new money but includes at least $5.3 million Flagler County has been lobbying for to rebuild dunes. Gov. Scott made the announcement at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park’s beach.
Assurances Flagler Beach was looking for–that there would be no sea walls anywhere, that the city’s beaches would have priority–proved elusive in a joint meeting with county government.
The 4 percent surtax currently generates $2 million a year. An extra penny would add $500,000, but there are differences over whether all the added revenue should go to beach restoration or whether some should go to marketing the county.
After a vote failed to take-over the failing museum entirely, Flagler County commissioners agreed to a generous 90-day bailout, pending a more detailed agreement that would enable the county to absorb the 460-acre property yet leave the museum board at least nominally in place.
The questioning was another example of of the TDC’s more inquisitorial attitude toward local projects as opposed to a less rigorous or accountable approach when the applicant is an out-of-town organization, including for-profits.
County government absorbed the tourism office last fall and is spending big on it, raising staff pay, expanding staff, buying $300,000 worth of equipment and talking about raising the 4 percent sales tax supplement on short-term rentals to 5 percent.
County government’s tourism arm, which manages $1.6 million in tax dollars, is diminishing emphasis on community events to push sports and conferences which draw people without necessarily promoting the county.