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Longboat Key Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 5 years ago

Bullock seeks new tourist tax agreement

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

When Dave Bullock was Sarasota County’s deputy administrator, he helped craft a tourist development tax interlocal agreement with the town of Longboat Key.

But, now that he’s the town manager of Longboat Key, he’s looking for a new agreement that’s more favorable for the Key.

“I was happy about it before,” Bullock told the Sarasota County Commission at a joint meeting Oct. 1, in Sarasota. “Today, I’m not so happy with it.”

Since 1987, an agreement that’s been renewed twice with the county allows the town a minimum annual distribution of $150,000 from a levy the county assesses for tourism taxes countywide.

Each year, the county allocates to the town a sum equal to one-third of the town’s annual actual tourism development tax collection. Those funds are used strictly for the renourishment of the Key’s beach.

“We are about to undergo several beach projects in the next several years, and we would like to discuss with your staff looking at a slight modification of this formula,” Bullock said. “There’s a clause, though, that stands in the way of us having meaningful discussions with the county about this.”

A clause in the agreement states that the “town shall forego any requests to the county for additional allocation of the tourist development tax during the term of this interlocal agreement.”

Although the Sarasota County Commission didn’t agree to draft a new agreement, it did agree to forego the clause so Bullock can discuss with Sarasota County Administrator Randall Reid the tourist development tax allocation agreement moving forward.

“Longboat Key maintains 10.5 miles of beach from end-to-end, primarily through its own financing and also uses this allocation to assist in that,” Bullock said. “I don’t have a proposal for a new formula moving forward, but I would like the opportunity to discuss it.”

Sarasota County Commissioner Nora Patterson told Bullock she’s willing to look at the agreement.

“At the time this agreement was reached, there was almost no public access to your beaches, and that has changed,” Patterson said. “If you do come to us to ask for more allocations, we will have to figure out how we talk equitably to other municipalities as well, though.”

The commission reached consensus to allow future discussions.

“We all understand you all pay a lot and you have been ineligible in the past for state monies,” Patterson said.

Bullock thanked commissioners for their willingness to work with the town.

“Over the past five years, we have collected more than $1 million and the amount we have access to hovers around $200,000,” Bullock said. “Before this agreement expires (in 2018), we will probably have new tourism units on the island generating even more increased revenue.”

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