County to weigh bed taxes, large Lupin development

Published: Friday, December 7, 2012 at 12:19 PM.

An item on the Dec. 11 Board of County Commissioner agenda will spark a discussion of legal uses for TDC bed tax funds.

That, a quasi-judicial session for the major development Lupin in Inlet Beach, and a conversation by Commissioner Cindy Meadows about televising BCC meetings are just a few of the items on the lengthy agenda.

The TDC funds will come up in the beginning part of the agenda.

Walton County created the TDC and its bed tax collection in accordance with Florida statute, 125.0104, which states that the tourist development tax, or the bed tax, can be collected and used to "provide for the advancement, generation, growth and promotion of tourism, the enhancement of the tourist industry, and the attraction of conventioneers and tourists.”

Following a Nov. 16 advisory opinion by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, the county will evaluate new uses for taxes collected by vacationers in South Walton. The opinion states that the TDC would be legally permitted to fund construction of bike and multiuse paths if “they constitute an extension, enlargement, remodeling, or improvement of a nature center,” according to a letter from Bondi to former Commission Chair Scott Brannon. These paths include those used for “biking, hiking, walking and running” and are considered part of a “nature center.” According to Bondi, the money could be used to enhance the already existing 18-mile bike and recreation path.

If the funds are to be to the benefit of tourists, such as “maintenance, repair, improvement and expansion of a multi-use pathway” and is approved at the county level, Bondi states the bed tax dollars are usable.

If the use is expanded, Bondi said the tourist development tax dollars could also be used to “acquire land and adjacent rights-of-way to provide public parking facilities to serve beach access areas.”

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