The Flagler County Commission on Monday approved 24 grants totaling $76,000 for mostly local organizations’ cultural and sports events, festivals and professional meetings, money to be drawn from the county’s tourist tax revenue.
The Sheriff’s Office requested that the criminal investigation of Flagler Tourism Director Matt Dunn be conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Amy Lukasik, the tourism bureau’s marketing director, is taking over Dunn’s duties for now.
Matt Dunn, Flagler County government’s tourism director for the past five years, was placed on paid administrative leave this morning pending the outcome of a criminal or administrative investigation. Dunn’s future with the county appears tenuous.
The grants were part of the annual county tourism bureau’s funding round and are designed to enhance tourism and the visitor count in the county.
County Administrator Craig Coffey and tourism officials put commissioners’ questions about the expense of a website to rest with 75 minutes of details and only a few straw men.
The proposal never went before the Tourist Development Council. The county administrator says the $284,000 cost will actually be less than the existing contract.
A good showing in December aside, when year-over-year tourism tax receipts jumped 18 percent, Flagler County has done less well, and not necessarily because of Hurricane Matthew.
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.
Flagler County commissioners agreed today to deplete a $1.5 million fund for beach management as part of a match to draw down state dollars, but none of the money would benefit Flagler Beach, angering officials there.
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.