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Pinellas tourist development tax on its way up to 6 percent

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

For the first time in roughly 10 years, Pinellas County will be raising its 5 percent tourist development tax (TDT).

The increase, which is expected to be approved by the Board of County Commissioners after a public hearing at their Aug. 4 regular meeting, will bring the TDT to 6 percent, and go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

The move, according to county documents, is projected to generate an additional $7 million per year for the county — money that will go, in theory, toward efforts to strengthen the local economy and increase employment through tourism promotion and development.

The tax has risen by 1 percentage point every 10 or so years since it was first established at 2 percent in 1978. It’s also the primary funding source for both the Tourist Development Council (TDC) and Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) — two county-overseen groups whose primary responsibilities are to make TDT recommendations to the BCC. It was upon their recommendation that the proposed 6 percent TDT came about.

According to the TDC’s and CVB’s joint website, 59 percent of the 2014 fiscal year TDT went toward tourism marketing and operations, 18 percent of it went to debt services, 14 percent went into the county reserve funds, 8 percent went toward beach nourishment, and 1 percent went to the tax collector.

The County Commission also seems poised to approve $1.4 million in funding for the CVB’s Elite Event Funding Program for fiscal year 2016.

The program provides funding for major Pinellas County events that either generate a large number of attendees, or bring in a substantial number, of room rentals. Events must have at least 15,000 attendees and/or generate at least 5,000 room nights in order to be funded.

Like the new 6 percent TDT, the $1.4 million for the CVB’s elite events is expected to be approved at the BCC’s Tuesday, Aug. 4 regular meeting.

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Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail devon@floridapolitics.com, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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