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Monday July 28th 2014

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Commissioner’s Delay Tourism-tax Decision

The Escambia County Commission will wait until the summer to decide what governance model they’ll go with when it comes to tourism tax dollars. Presently, bed-tax money is spent through a collective of local chamber of commerces, though there has been a push to turn the funds over to a private body.

The commissioners will take up the issue in July. A group of hoteliers—who would prefer a private-body model was adopted—requested the board put off a decision on the matter.
“I just wanted to come to y’all today to ask you, please, to delay you’re decision,” said Julian McQueen, owner of Innisfree Hotels.

Commissioner Gene Valentino said he’d “make it simple” and proceeded to lay down his criteria for accepting a private-based model. The commissioner said he needed to see a fair process that provided all parties a seat at the table. He also wanted to see “a fair and equitable” allocation of bed-tax dollars to all areas of the county.

“Those are the kinds of balancing things I’m going to be looking at,” Valentino said. “All for one and one for all.”

When the commissioners decided to table the matter until July, Escambia County Administrator Randy Oliver told them it wouldn’t be enough time to have any affect this next fiscal year. The commissioners wondered if the hoteliers understood.

“They’re nodding,” confirmed Commissioner Grover Robinson.