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Flagler Increases Tourism Tax to 5%, Benefiting Beach Fix, Then More Promotions

| March 21, 2017

The first two years of new revenue will swell the beach-repair fund by $2.5 million, settling back down to $500,000 thereafter, when the promotions revenue will rise to $1.5 million a year.

O’Brien Beach-Funding Proposal Prevails, And Flagler Beach Gets $2 Million Pledge

| March 20, 2017

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.

Flagler Tourism “Promotions” Slush Fund Jumps 76% in 3 Years, And We’re Counting Pennies For Beach Repairs?

| March 20, 2017

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.

O’Brien Surprise: Commissioner Agrees To Higher Tourism Tax, But With Beach Twist

| March 6, 2017

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.

Council Endorses Raising Flagler’s Tourism Tax to 5% to Pay For Beach Repairs

| February 20, 2017

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.

Renner Is Right: Kill Enterprise Florida and Visit Florida, Twin Kleptos of Public Troth

| February 12, 2017

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.

Flagler Seeks to Raise County’s Tourism Sales Surtax to 5% to Help Pay for Beach Restoration

| December 21, 2016

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.

County’s Tourism Office Seeks a Blank Check Of $150,000, and No-Bid Award of $130,000

| December 4, 2016

The spending authorizations depart in one way or another from county or tourism council policy and underscore to what extent the paper trail behind tourism office spending has been thinning out over the past two years.

Flagler County Agrees to Bail Out Ag Museum Despite $150,000 Deficit and Barnful of Unanswered Questions

| October 21, 2016

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.

TDC Favors Beverly Beach’s $32,000 Walkover Renovations, But Not Before Unusual Grilling

| May 18, 2016

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 Approves Big Spending on Tourism Office Staff and Rigs and Hints at Raising Tax

| April 19, 2016

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.

With Less Accountability, Flagler’s Tourism Dollars Continue Shift To Big-Ticket Events

| March 21, 2016

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.

County Tourism Board Approves Speculative $40,000 Public Subsidy for Private Conference

| December 17, 2015

The $40,000 in county tax dollars will help pay for rooms and food at a writers’ conference at Hammock Beach Resort, in hopes for good press in return. There is little evidence of such returns.

County Approves $25,000 Public Subsidy for Spartan Race on Private Land Next Year

| December 7, 2015

The county commission with little discussion unanimously approved the taxpayer subsidy for the once-controversial race, which will take place at the Cracker Ranch in November 2016.

Spartan Extreme Race Re-Sets for Flagler: New Location, Same Lack of Transparency

| October 22, 2015

While the Spartan race appears set at a private ranch in Flagler next March, again, serious questions of transparency and patronage are undermining tiourism chief Matt Dunn’s latest approach.

Conflict Concerns Raised Over Tourism’s Matt Dunn Moonlighting at His Own Agency

| October 19, 2015

Flagler government tourism chief Matt Dunn, an $82,000-a-year employee, owns a company that offers services similar to those he provides the county, raising questions of conflicts of interest.

Overselling Flagler: How County Tourism and Government Zeal Lost the Spartan Race Before It Started

| August 26, 2015

An examination of the documents behind the Spartan Race proposed for Princess Place show tourism chief Matt Dunn repeatedly getting ahead of the process, showing little awareness of policy and protocols and virtually no appreciation for the political context that ultimately sank his biggest pet project to date.

Princess Place Saved Again: Flagler Pulls Extreme Race Out of Preserve and Looks Elsewhere

| August 23, 2015

County Administrator Craig Coffey, conceding to the outpouring of opposition to holding such a race at the preserve—and to a majority of county commissioners’ categorical opposition to the event there—informed commissioners Sunday that the race would be pulled.

Princess Place Preserve Slated for Extreme-Sport-Type Endurance Race, and 6,000 Racers

| August 19, 2015

The Spartan extreme-sport race in March will cover 8-10 miles and feature nearly 30 landscape-altering obstacles, with 6,000 racers and 2,000 spectators expected. The county is subsidizing the race.

Flagler Looking to Raise Tourism Tax For 2nd Time in Four Years Despite Surging Revenue

| June 23, 2015

Flagler County wants to raise the local sales surtax on hotel and motel stays to 5%, from 4%, even though revenue has grown ten-fold over the past decade.

On Parking Mire, Flagler Beach Commission Piles Confusion On Top of Indecision

| May 18, 2015

After a proposal to put the question of paid parking to a referendum failed, the Flagler Beach City Commission had trouble giving its administration direction on what to do next.

From Harry Potter to Indian Trails Complex, Quidditch Tournament Snitches In on Brooms

| February 27, 2015

Quidditch doesn’t exist. At least not officially. But for two days at Indian Trails, the United States Quidditch South Regional Tournament will feature 14 teams from four states competing in the game Harry Potter made famous, and that’s now played on thousands of college and university campuses.

Sports Events Specialist Matt Dunn Is Named Tourism Director in Place of Georgia Turner

| January 6, 2014

Matt Dunn, 39, named Vice President for tourism today–he’ll be in charge of a $900,000 budget controlling Flagler’s marketing–owned his own events company in St. Johns County, worked with Flagler’s tourism council previously, and was Executive Director of the Ocala/Marion County Visitors and Convention Bureau and the Ocala/Marion County Sports Commission.

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