The daily newspaper published on its front page what they describe as a dispute between the DeLuna Fest organizers and the Santa Rosa Island Authority over whether the tickets included sponsorship packages should be taxed any the SRIA. Rather than meet with the organizers the SRIA chose to use the media to make its case….maybe in hopes of distracting the public from how badly the SRIA has handled the natural gas issue on the beach (the IN news story in tomorrow’s paper).
I interviewed Scott Mitchell of Five Flags Tourism Group, who owns DeLuna Fest, and he said that he received an email from the SRIA on December 4 for the disputed amount -$15,670. There was no supporting documentation. Mitchell said it took three or four days to get the auditors’ report. When he tried to set at meeting with Buck Lee, the SRIA general manager, Mitchell was told Lee had gone hunting and wouldn’t be available until after the first of the year.
After not hearing anything last week from the SRIA, Mitchell called on Monday, Jan. 9 to set up a meeting – which the SRIA set for next week. Mitchell was surprised that the daily newspaper called him about the article before his attorney and accountants had an opportunity to meet with the SRIA.
Mitchell pointed out to me a clause in its agreement with the SRIA that states that sponsorship packets are exempt from the SRIA tax. He believes he has grounds to fight the $15K assessment.
A company spends over $5 million in the past two years, fills hotel rooms, packs beach businesses and brings over 70,000 people to the beach in October—-and this is how the SRIA treats them.