David Warriner, chairman of the Tourist Development Council advisory board, submitted his resignation Monday to the Board of County Commissioners.

David Warriner, chairman of the Tourist Development Council advisory board, submitted his resignation Monday to the Board of County Commissioners.

In a letter addressed to chair Commissioner Ward McDaniel, Warriner expressed appreciation for the opportunity to serve, but sorrow at tendering his resignation.

However, Warrner wrote that he had concluded that recent board actions were “contradictory with my mission and obligation to my employees as a hotelier in Port St. Joe and Gulf County.”

Warriner’s resignation arrived one month after the TDC executive director Jennifer Adams left for the same position in Okaloosa County.

Warriner began his letter noting the last five years of success enjoyed since the BOCC overhauled the advisory board and Adams was hired in the wake of a controversy over TDC spending.

“I have found joy and satisfaction in the successful team effort I have experienced,” Warriner wrote.

Warriner followed with the fuel of divergence: the BOCC’s recent decision to terminate the TDC’s marketing contract and reduce the budget.

“I … unquestionably support the continued, aggressive marketing of our County’s beautiful, natural assets to potential and return visitors,” Warriner wrote. “I believe it is crucial, if not paramount, to the continued growth of jobs in our shared community.”

TDC growth, at least in dollars and cents, has paced the county economically for several years.

For 2017, TDC bed tax collections as of July 31 were $1.69 million.

Bed tax revenues first topped $1 million just four years ago and followed with annual growth of 9.41 percent, 39 percent and 14 percent in succeeding years, running to just shy of $1.9 million last year.

So far, this year is pacing ahead of 2016.

Growth in the “so-called” shoulder seasons was more than 30 percent in the past two years and, as monthly examples, June grew nearly 74 percent, August 135 percent and January 82 percent, the past five years.

Warriner noted the change in tone from the BOCC.

During a recent meeting commissioners made comments inferring that maybe there was too much tourism.

Those words came as the board was moving fifth-cent bed tax dollars, earmarked more than two years ago for the ultimate creation of a new park, in the direction of renovations to the existing park on 10th Street in Port St. Joe.

At the same time commissioners cancelled a marketing contract of over $200,000.

“Unfortunately with the recent change in mood (publicly stated) on Commissioners to reduce tourism in the area and cancellation by the Gulf County Board of Commissioners of the highly successful TDC marketing plan, I have concluded these actions are contradictory” to his mission as an employer and businessman.

Warriner expressed dismay with recent or proposed board actions, including Tuesday’s approval, without discussion and on a voice-vote as part of the consent agenda, for the makeover of the advisory board, eliminating two positions for tourist-related individuals, as well as changes to the language in the bed tax ordinance.

“The upcoming proposed changes in the tourist development tax ordinance, reducing board representation of Tourism related professionals and bed tax collectors, continues an uncomfortable and dangerous trend to increase influence of public officials and to reduce the voice of those who actually work, invest and employ folks in this industry,” Warriner wrote.

His letter continued by referencing the obligation of TDC boards, as written in statute, to continuously review expenditures of revenue of the tourist development trust fund.

“Contrary to my request as Chairman, our current TDC board has not been called to meet since June 8, 2017,” Warriner wrote. “I have been told we will not meet until after the start of the new fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2017).

“This will result in the adoption of the budget of the tourist development trust fund (recurring revenues in excess of $1.5 million) without ever being presented, reviewed or approved by the full TDC board or our finance committee.”

That, Warriner continued, “is contrary to the process since I have served as Chairman of the board.”

Warriner wrote he had full confidence in Kelli Godwin, who succeeded Adams, and “her highly professional staff” but “only if they have the support and guidance of a strong, independent board and a Board of County Commissioners that will strongly support effective marketing efforts and programs.”

Warriner closed, “I sadly say good-by to an era of unparalleled success and a true team effort for the good of our whole shared community.”