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Bed taxes up again in December

Tim Croft
tcroft@starfl.com

The Gulf County Tourist Development Council is examining the past to better assess the present.

And so far it is working out quite well.

The Gulf County Tax Collector last week provided the bed tax numbers for December and for the second month out of the first three months of the new fiscal year bed collections were up.

Year-over-year, bed tax collections were up 3.22 percent, or about $,2500, in December and for the year the TDC has collected 31.86 percent more revenue than the first three months of last fiscal year.

December 2019 was even more impressive when considering that December 2018 realized a 48 percent jump compared to the prior year.

However, the 2018-2019 fiscal year also included recovery from Hurricane Michael so in an attempt to get a firmer handle on where tourism is now, TDC Executive Director Kelli Godwin said the agency is going back two years.

And even those comparisons are pretty good.

Compared to the 2017-2018, TDC revenue for the current year is up 4.8 percent.

Both October and November were down this fiscal year, but December 2019 was well above revenue collections that year.

“That really is a more true number because I think it reflects the loss of (lodging) inventory,” Godwin said. “But we are doing great even with less inventory.”

If the trend continues it was would mark a remarkable comeback for tourism after Michael.

Three months into the fiscal year, bed tax collections are ahead of a year during which the TDC collected more than $2.18 million, which still stands as the single-year record.

City requests

Bringing a request from his board, Port St. Joe City Commissioner David Ashbrook, the city’s representative to the TDC board, asked what the process was for receiving funding for projects within the city.

Ashbrook said he believed his fellow commissioners were no longer under the impression $800,000 or so pledged to the 10th Street Park was available, but wondered about the process by which a project might be approved for TDC funding.

Godwin said the ultimate decision rested with the Board of County Commissioners but encouraged Ashbrook to bring projects to the TDC advisory board.

For several months now, city commissioners have debated whether or not to pursue TDC funding for projects within the city.

They, and residents, have also questioned whether the city receives its fair share in TDC dollars each year.