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Thursday November 27th 2014

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The role of TDC in the decision to give $5.5 million to Visit Pensacola

shocked
Ron Ellington, his hoteliers and the Escambia County Commission are jumping over a very important step in their rush to give control of $5.5 million in tourism taxes to the new group.

By law and county ordinance, it appears this issue should have been considered, debated and approved by the Escambia County Tourist Development Commission before it came before the BCC.

According to Florida law, the county was required to appoint an advisory council to be known as the “Escambia County Tourist Development Council.”

The council shall meet at least once each quarter and, from time to time, shall make recommendations to the county governing board for the effective operation of the special projects or for uses of the tourist development tax revenue and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by county ordinance or resolution.

The council shall continuously review expenditures of revenues from the tourist development trust fund and shall receive, at least quarterly, expenditure reports from the county governing board or its designee.

Expenditures which the council believes to be unauthorized shall be reported to the county governing board and the Department of Revenue. The governing board (county commission) and the department shall review the findings of the council and take appropriate administrative or judicial action to ensure compliance with this section.

The county commission has approved the TDC bylaws which state the same thing: BYLAWS11210

Furthermore the county ordinances place the power to approve any tourism plan in the hands of the TDC:

Sec. 90-51. (c)Functions. The county tourist development advisory council shall prepare and submit to the board of county commissioners for its approval a plan for tourist development for the county. The council shall, from time to time, make recommendations to the board of county commissioners for the effective operation of the special projects or uses of the tourist development tax revenue and perform such other duties as may be prescribed by county ordinance or resolution. The county tourist development advisory council shall continuously review expenditures of revenues for the tourist development trust fund and shall receive at least quarterly expenditure reports from the board of county commissioners or its designee. Expenditures which the county tourist development advisory council believes to be unauthorized shall be reported to the board of county commissioners and the state department of revenue.

Why is this being rushed? Why is the TDC being left out of the process? Are the commissioners overlooking their own ordinances?

No documentation, no written plan, no detailed budget, no approval by TDC, no approval by the full chamber board.

Yet this passed 5-0 out of the Committee of the Whole.