8 of the 9 board members were present. Absent was Marty McDaniel. It was also reported that McDaniel is no longer employed by Royal American Hospitality. Since Mr. McDaniel has accepted employment with another collector, TDC/CVB Attorney Doug Sale advised that both he and the Bay County Attorney did not see any problem with McDaniel retaining his board seat.
After the “more” link, info on the bed tax collection, Coastal Vision 3000, and College Spring Break Co-Op.
Bed Tax Collection Update
Charlene Honnen, Bay County Tourist Development Tax Specialist, reported that collections for the first quarter (October-December 2007) were up over the past year. She also discussed her department’s continued efforts to sign up rental properties that are not currently collecting and/or remitting the 3% bed tax. She mentioned that there were 30 new registrations recently that has resulted in $10,000 back taxes being assessed.
A presentation was also made by Brad Gilford, from the Florida Department of Revenue. Mr. Gilford discussed the pilot project that the Department has been operating to increase collections of state and local sales tax on transient rentals. The project compared the property tax registrations of non-homestead properties near the beach in PCB with DOR registrations. Over 900 letters were then mailed to inquire as to whether the target properties are rented. The assumption is that some of these non-registered properties might be rented for at least part of the year. Over 300 responses have been received so far. Additional follow-up will be completed for non-respondants including requesting copies of the owner’s federal income tax returns. The pilot program is scheduled to be completed within six months at which time it will be decided whether to expand the program to other areas. As usual, the Department will continue to share information with Bay County where the 3% bed tax is collected.
Coastal Vision 3000
Buddy Runnel, from The Sterling Companies, and Dawn Moliterno, from the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce, made a presentation on the Coastal Vision 3000 initiative. The four-county (Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, and Gulf) initiative includes both private and governmental participation. The organization’s goal is “to increase national and international awareness, support our local tourism and economic development professionals and grow our market.” The organization will be marketing the four-county area under the ‘halo’ brand, “the beach”. Additional information can be reviewed at the organizations web site, http://www.thebeachfla.com .
After a discussion that included supportive comments from board members Buddy Wilkes, Mike Bennett, Yanni Patronis, Gary Walsingham, and Andy Phillips and no negative comments, the board voted 8-0 on a motion by Mr. Walsingham to support the initiative via a $15,000 Founder Membership contribution. Apparently the board was not influenced by any of the competitive fear voiced by some members of the marketing committee the previous week when the initiative was briefly discussed.
College Spring Break Co-Op
Barry Lott, from Y Partnership, updated the board on the problems that have been experienced with the MTV partnership. Although the agreement was finalized on November 28, 2007, the online component was not up and running until mid-January. In addition to starting much later than originally contemplated, there have been problems concerning the 10 million online banner impressions purchased by the CVB. The CVB resold a portion of these impressions to spring-break oriented hotels, but later found out that MTV would only link these banners to the CVB’s College Spring Break website (http://www.pcbeachspringbreak.com).
The co-op that already had very poor participation from the local tourist-oriented business apparently will have even fewer participants than originally expected. One co-op partner, Sandpiper Beacon, has withdrawn and President Dan Rowe reported that additional requests to withdraw have been received. Rowe also reported that he would like the board to consider whether they would like to continue college spring break marketing for 2009 this April.
The initial findings of the strategic planning process are scheduled for March distribution.
Letters have been sent seeking proposals from organizations interested in operating the Indian Summer Festival for 2008.
At the request of President Rowe, Y Partnership is preparing a “Plan B” proposal for marketing PCB for the current year. Rowe has requested this proposal due to concerns over the economy and rising fuel prices.
The Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages will be hosting training sessions at the Holiday Inn Sunspree on February 26th at 10AM and 2PM in preparation for College Spring Break 2008. The division has requested that owners, managers and employees of establishments that sell or serve alcohol attend. Hopefully all local businesses will attend so that we do not have a repeat of last year’s spring break when there were over 1600 arrests for underage possession and 40 arrests for selling alcohol to minors.