We talk a lot about Bed Tax around here, because largely it’s a fairly accurate snapshot of the vitality of our tourism industry. Bed Tax, or officially known as the Bay County Tourist Development Tax, is a tax on revenue generated from tourism accommodations rentals. In other words, if a property charges $1000 base rent rate, there is an additional 5% bed tax charged on top of that, or $50, which is collected and managed by the Bay County Clerk of the Court and Comptroller, Bill Kinsaul.
What the bed tax is used for.
To understand what the bed tax is used for, we need to break down what every percentage is apportioned to.
The first 3 points are specifically designated to be used “for advertising and promotion of Panama City Beach, Florida as a tourist destination, beach cleaning and maintenance and product improvement of the area.” Then “1% of the monies collected are dedicated to the beach renourishment project and for the on-going maintenance of the renourishment. [And]1% of the monies collected are dedicated to supporting low cost air service and promoting the area nationally and internationally.”
Further clarification from Dan Rowe, CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau: “The third cent goes to beach renourishment. The 5th is for cooperative marketing with low fare carriers flying into ECP. The CVB is funded from the other 3 cents, as is beach maintenance, landscaping, etc.”
The original base bed tax rate was 3%, but it was increased to 5% in February of 2009 in what was a dramatic series of public workshops and meetings. The decision went through a litany of discussions in boards that ranged from local home owner’s associations (whether they would support it) to Tourist Development Council meetings, with the ultimate decision being on the shoulders of the Bay County Commission.
Originally determined in the county commission meetings in which the bed tax increase was proposed, the 4th cent increase had no “sunset clause” – meaning it would never expire. The 5th cent increase had a sunset clause that was to expire its collection in April of 2013, however that sunset clause was removed this morning in a regularly held County Commission meeting.
At this point, the bed tax rate will remain at 5% indefinitely.