People who stay in hotels and rentals in the province of Escambia will have to pay more taxes starting in April.
The county committee voted four goals to one to raise the county tourism development tax.
The county currently collects $ 0.04 for every dollar spent on hotels and vacation rentals in the county.
They will raise the tax to $ 0.05. The group says a 1 percent increase in the county household tax will generate an estimated $ 2.5 million a year.
Several hoteliers expressed their concerns to the committee at Thursday’s meeting, saying they are against the move.
They said they had already had the plague and now Hurricane Sally.
Innisfree Hotels CEO Julian Macqueen said, “The hotel industry is killing off. It piles up. It’s unfair. This is not the right time.”
“It’s a political hit – everyone knows it,” said resident Melissa Pino.
Others believe that it will not affect the tourism industry.
“How many people have been planning their vacation and making their decision based on the tax rate where are you going?” Pino added.
Doug Underhill was the sole commissioner against the tax increase.
Commissioner Underhill said, “Priorities may come and go, but the tax stays forever. I urge my colleagues to vote against this tax and focus instead on restricting our spending.”
The committee voted that the proceeds will go to tourism ads for the first year.
Commissioner Robert Bender said, “I also said I would give it to the marketing effort, so I’d like to get that commitment from the board.”
Bandar then said that the committee and TDT board would reassess them and the funds could be used for other purposes, such as building infrastructure.