Here’s what the municipalities have tentatively agreed to regarding the Bed-Tax expansion

Last week, we reported that an agreement between all Okaloosa County municipalities may have actually happened regarding the proposed bed-tax district expansion.

Since the announcement of the expansion, there has been some opposition from Destin surrounding the expansion as stakeholders want to make sure that the money split is “fair and equitable”.

  • This led to a conflict resolution between all parties involved and has been going on since August 18th.

At the August 18th meeting, the County proposed setting aside 12.5% of the annual Tourist Development Tax collections to be used by the municipalities subject to the nine municipalities agreeing to an Interlocal Agreement detailing how those funds would be earmarked for each municipality.

Another meeting was held on August 24th that resulted in terms that staff and the attorneys agreed to take back to their city councils for consideration.

We now know what those proposed terms are ⤵

  • The City of Destin will get 48.5% of the 12.5% pot of money.
  • The City of Fort Walton Beach will give up their guaranteed seat on the Tourist Development Council to the City of Destin.
  • The agreement is for 28 years.

➡️ Based on recent bed-tax collections of roughly $24 million, the 12.5% comes out to around $3 million to be split. This means that Destin looks to collect a minimum of $1.5 million each year from the deal.

➡️ As for the guaranteed seat on the TDC, Crestview and Fort Walton Beach would have the 2 guaranteed seats based on populous. This means that Destin would not have a guaranteed seat for one of their elected officials. According to Jeff Burns, special counsel for Destin, “the city of Fort Walton Beach graciously agreed to give up their elected official seat” and will fill it with a tourist-industry person selected by their city council.

  • When asked why the city chose to give up their seat, City Manager Michael said that “the City of Fort Walton Beach realizes the long term benefits of the countywide bed tax expansion and was able to help develop an Interlocal agreement that is beneficial to all nine municipalities.”

Even if approved by all municipalities, the Agreement will still have to go before the Board of County Commissioners and be approved.

The second meeting regarding the proposed TDD expansion with all municipalities participating is scheduled for Wednesday, September 8th, at the Convention Center.

The mail-in ballot only election is scheduled for October 5.

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