County Commissioner Donald O’Brien’s proposal to shift more money toward beach restoration prevailed today in a joint meeting of the County Commission and the county’s tourism board, and the county administrator pledged to allocate $2 million to Flagler Beach’s needs.
Tourist Development Council
Paying for critical repairs to Flagler County’s beaches is hostages to a tourism budget’s scandalous and unaccountable promotions spending, which the county administration wants to increase despite the emergency.
County Commissioner Donald O’Brien today was willing to raise the county’s tourism tax to 5 percent, but to further increase revenue for beach restoration, and, for a year, lower revenue for promotions.
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.
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.