Walton considers adding a penny to tourist development tax

The additional penny can be used “to acquire, construct, extend, enlarge, remodel, repair, improve, maintain, operate, or finance.”

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SANTA ROSA BEACH — Walton County commissioners have been asked to consider implementing a 1-cent tourist development tax.

If approved, the revenue would be spent exclusively on infrastructure needed to enhance the visitor experience.

The idea of levying a tax approved by the Florida Legislature this year for “high tourism impact counties” was floated by Tourist Development Council Executive Director Jay Tusa at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting.

Tusa informed commissioners the tax would raise about $6 million annually that the county could use for things like constructing parking areas or contributing to the creation of a county transit system to alleviate traffic in areas heavily visited by tourists.

Tusa said he envisioned a transit system running along the coast that is linked to a north-south system already being planned.

Commissioner Sara Comander said she would not oppose supporting raising the existing local option tax from 4 to 5 cents if she could be assured that the funds would go toward infrastructure and not marketing.

“I would have some concern if we put it into marketing. We have quite a few dollars going into that,” she said.

The law passed this year allows a penny in taxes levied on short-term accommodations to finance public facilities if those facilities “are needed to increase tourist-related business activities in the county.” Read full article.