Business

Time to call bulls#$t

September 13, 2013

tourist
Ron Ellington made several commitments to use local marketing firms and talent for his new group’s tourism efforts. The requests by the commissioners came from what appeared to be the Greater Pensacola Chamber’s decision to use an Nashville-based firm, Bohan Advertising, for the tourism efforts.

The chamber board did approve in 2012 the hiring Bohan, over the objections of several board members–including me, because it was the recommendation of the TAC subcommittee.

Who made up the subcommittee? Members of the hotel and hospitality industry. In fact, Ellington’s boss had two of the votes. There were three chambers, two restaurants, two other hotel/condo reps and one DIB.

Jehan Clark, Jaco’s
Tom Rasinen, Hilton on Pensacola Beach (owned by Ellington’s boss, Julian MacQueen)
Maria Goldberg, Great Southern Restaurant Group
Maureen LaMar, Pensacola Beach Chamber of Commerce
Jatin Bhakta, Country Inn & Suites
Alison Davenport, Perdido Key Chamber
Kim Kimbrough, DIB
George Hawthorne, GCAAC
Lorranie Christen, Portofino
Harlan Butler, Innisfree (Julian MacQueen)

The hotel industry and their chamber groups had six votes. They selected the out-of-town firm, which the board simply ratified.

For $5.5 million, history is being rewritten.

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  • John September 13, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    Why does anyone think that things will change? All that’s going to happen is that the hoteliers will confiscate bed tax money to augment (replace) their own advertising budgets. And who really cares that they are the bed tax ‘collectors’? Since when did we give tax collectors authority over how to spend tax dollars? Do we let the IRS decide how to spend our federal tax dollars? Do we let gas stations decide where to build roads? If the BOCC wants to change how they handle/spend bed tax dollars, fine. But they need to appoint a committee first to study what’s right with how things are being handled right now, what can be improved and then how it can be improved. Appoint the study group and let it do its work, in the sunshine, and give them 6 months to make their report. Then they will have 6 more months to prepare and implement the plan. Its could really be that simple.

  • Ames September 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Thank you George H.

  • George Hawthorne September 13, 2013 at 10:25 am

    Ames,

    The Tourism Development Taxes are NOT available to the County for General Fund purposes. They are clearly defined under state law as shown below:

    CHAPTER 125.0104 – TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAX; AUTHORIZED USES;

    (5) AUTHORIZED USES OF REVENUE.–

    (a) All tax revenues received pursuant to this section by a county imposing the tourist development tax shall be used by that county for the following purposes only:

    1. To acquire, construct, extend, enlarge, remodel, repair, improve, maintain, operate, or promote one or more publicly owned and operated convention centers, sports stadiums, sports arenas, coliseums, or auditoriums, or museums that are publicly owned and operated or owned and operated by not-for-profit organizations and open to the public, within the boundaries of the county or subcounty special taxing district in which the tax is levied. Tax revenues received pursuant to this section may also be used for promotion of zoological parks that are publicly owned and operated or owned and operated by not-for-profit organizations and open to the public. However, these purposes may be implemented through service contracts and leases with lessees with sufficient expertise or financial capability to operate such facilities;

    2. To promote and advertise tourism in the State of Florida and nationally and internationally; however, if tax revenues are expended for an activity, service, venue, or event, the activity, service, venue, or event shall have as one of its main purposes the attraction of tourists as evidenced by the promotion of the activity, service, venue, or event to tourists;

    3. To fund convention bureaus, tourist bureaus, tourist information centers, and news bureaus as county agencies or by contract with the chambers of commerce or similar associations in the county, which may include any indirect administrative costs for services performed by the county on behalf of the promotion agency; or

    4. To finance beach park facilities or beach improvement, maintenance, renourishment, restoration, and erosion control, including shoreline protection, enhancement, cleanup, or restoration of inland lakes and rivers to which there is public access as those uses relate to the physical preservation of the beach, shoreline, or inland lake or river. However, any funds identified by a county as the local matching source for beach renourishment, restoration, or erosion control projects included in the long-range budget plan of the state’s Beach Management Plan, pursuant to s. 161.091, or funds contractually obligated by a county in the financial plan for a federally authorized shore protection project may not be used or loaned for any other purpose. In counties of less than 100,000 population, no more than 10 percent of the revenues from the tourist development tax may be used for beach park facilities.

    (b) Tax revenues received pursuant to this section by a county of less than 750,000 population imposing a tourist development tax may only be used by that county for the following purposes in addition to those purposes allowed pursuant to paragraph (a): to acquire, construct, extend, enlarge, remodel, repair, improve, maintain, operate, or promote one or more zoological parks, fishing piers or nature centers which are publicly owned and operated or owned and operated by not-for-profit organizations and open to the public. All population figures relating to this subsection shall be based on the most recent population estimates prepared pursuant to the provisions of s. 186.901. These population estimates shall be those in effect on July 1 of each year.

    (c) The revenues to be derived from the tourist development tax may be pledged to secure and liquidate revenue bonds issued by the county for the purposes set forth in subparagraphs (a)1. and 4. or for the purpose of refunding bonds previously issued for such purposes, or both; however, no more than 50 percent of the revenues from the tourist development tax may be pledged to secure and liquidate revenue bonds or revenue refunding bonds issued for the purposes set forth in subparagraph (a)4. Such revenue bonds and revenue refunding bonds may be authorized and issued in such principal amounts, with such interest rates and maturity dates, and subject to such other terms, conditions, and covenants as the governing board of the county shall provide. The Legislature intends that this paragraph shall be full and complete authority for accomplishing such purposes, but such authority shall be supplemental and additional to, and not in derogation of, any powers now existing or later conferred under law.

    (d) Any use of the local option tourist development tax revenues collected pursuant to this section for a purpose not expressly authorized by paragraph (3)(l) or paragraph (3)(n) or paragraph (a), paragraph (b), or paragraph (c) of this subsection is expressly prohibited.

  • Ames September 13, 2013 at 9:54 am

    La-de-da, who’d ‘a thought? All of us…
    I have a question about the purpose and uses of the tourist tax dollars. Is any of that money used to help fund development and maintaince of infrastructure that facilitates tourist and tourist related use of roads, bridges, toll booths, water and sewer, law enforcement, emergency responders including firefighters and law enforcement…etcetera, etcetera?