Pasco County has increased its tourist development tax by 1%, making the new rate 5%.
The action came during the Pasco County Commission’s April 5 board meeting, on a 4-0 vote, with Commissioner Jack Mariano absent.
Adam Thomas, the director of tourism for Experience Florida’s Sports Coast, appeared before the commission to request the increase.
The tax is paid by visitors who stay in short-term lodging in the county, Thomas said.
The proceeds are used to support tourism outreach efforts, which are coordinated through Experience Florida’s Sports Coast, Pasco’s Destination Management Organization (DMO).
Thomas reminded commissioners: “In 2019, you invested and supported our rebrand of Florida’s Sports Coast, and since then we’ve taken our market share to new heights, new levels that we previously did not reach.
“Since 2019, we’ve seen our visitor economy grow, with the current resources that we already have in place,” he said.
The tourism marketing group now wants to take Pasco County’s story to international market places, Thomas said. It is particularly interested in marketing to Europe, he said, noting the county attracts some European visitors.
Commissioner Mike Moore, who is the chairman of the Pasco Tourist Development Council, said that the council unanimously supported the proposed increase.
He said there were no real issues or questions from the council.
“It’s not our citizens here in Pasco County that pay this, it’s actually people who come and visit,” Moore said. “We’re the lowest (tourist development tax rate) in the area.”
“As we all know, Adam and his team have done an excellent job with the funds they’ve received so far.
“I haven’t had one person reach out and say anything negative about this. And, the hoteliers are onboard. And they’re the one who are going to have concerns, if they’re going to have concerns about it,” Moore said.
Kathy Lambert, who lives in Dade City, did have objections.
She told the county board that she was there when they initiated the tourist development tax and she had objections then.
She said she’d like to see a county board that isn’t “going to keep digging into the taxpayer’s wallet,” whether those taxpayers are from Dade City, or coming from Washington D.C., to enjoy Pasco County.
Board chairwoman Kathryn Starkey, however, spoke in favor of the increase. “I have not had opposition from anyone in that industry. We heard not a peep.”
Moore agreed: “They actually welcomed it.”
Starkey replied: “It gets them more business.”
The Tourist Development Tax initially was authorized by the county on Sept. 5, 1990, as a 2% tax imposed on each whole and major fraction of each dollar of the total rental charge for overnight accommodations for a term of six months or less within the unincorporated areas of Pasco County.
Since then, the county increased it to 4% on Aug. 15, 2017.
The majority of the funds resulting from that increase are earmarked for debt service of the Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus.
The tax applies to any living quarters or accommodations in any hotel, apartment hotel, motel, resort motel, apartment, apartment motel, rooming house, mobile home park, recreational vehicle park, or condominium for a term of six months or less
The authorization for the tax increase also spells out the types of expenditures allowed with the tax funds.
Published April 13, 2022