Board of County Commissioners
Leon County, Florida
Please, stop it.
In 1988, Tallahassee hoteliers supported a tourist development tax to promote Leon County tourism. At the time, it was abundantly clear that funds could not to be used for capital expenditures such as performing arts centers, “PAC’s”. Hoteliers and the public were assured that the tax would promote tourism, not build structures such as performing arts centers. The restriction was still clear in 1993 when voters by referendum rejected a tax funded “PAC”.
From 1993 to today, commissioners have gone around voters to fund pet projects such as the PAC. Commissioners raised bed taxes and changed the ordinance, council structure and tourist development plan. The raises and changes allowed spending for a PAC and for other pet projects as well. Millions of tax dollars and staff time have been expended for non-tourist promotion purposes since the 1993 referendum. The tourist development tax was approved by county voters with a plan to promote tourism; not to build PAC’s and fund pet projects.
Supporters wear “I will give” buttons; but, I don’t think a private building fund even exists. One gift has been pledged. But it’s contingent on tax dollars being directed to the PAC. Instead of raising private funds, PAC supporters now want $215,000 more tax dollars to convince voters to approve yet more tax funding. They will use these tax dollars for their continuing “public awareness campaign.” Their stated goal: “Advocate for a public referendum in 2012 to extend the 1% local option sales tax which includes The Florida Center of Performing Arts & Education.” Collecting tax dollars and spending those tax dollars to raise more tax dollars is outrageous. I recently looked at the FCPAE website. Even after many complaints, it still says that taxes will not be raised.
Propagandists do not correct their misleading statements. In this country, tax funded “public information campaigns” should not mislead the public. Taxes will be raised under the plan. Over one million private dollars have not been raised. Is there any private money at all in an unrestricted designated building fund for this project? Are donors and citizens been fully advised that that taxes will go up to build and operate the PAC? No, they are not all “aware” of these facts. Even FCPAE members have been deceived. The FCPAE should correct its misleading information.
It’s time for commissioners to “Stop it!” Prior Commissions have orchestrated spending for a project specifically rejected by citizens. The organizational structure of the Tourist Development Council has been perverted too allowing spending on more pet projects. More hogs at the trough mean more tax increases. To get funding for the PAC, commissioners had to invite more worthy organizations to the trough. $300,000 was spent to build new banquet space at Goodwood Museum. The banquet space directly competes against private owners of banquet space, especially hotels that collect tourist development taxes. No, the funds did not simply restore a historic structure. New meeting space was constructed. Previous Commissions have subverted the will of the voters opening the tax trough to unintended purposes and organizations.
Please put a stop to wasting staff time and spending tax dollars for this voter rejected pet project. It’s outrageous for commissioners to support spending more tax dollars to attempt to convince or deceive voters to further fund this project.
At the very least, stop funding the misleading “public awareness campaign” at your meeting January 18, 2011. The campaign is an obscene use of public funds. In good times or bad, no matter how worthy the cause, subverting the referendum and using tax dollars to mislead citizens is wrong. Stop funding the campaign Tuesday.
Pace Allen, Jr.
Pace Allen, Jr., Florida Attorney & Certified Public Accountant since 1983
Former - Chairman, Tallahassee Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
Former - Manager of three Tallahassee Hotels with meeting & banquet space
Leon & Gadsden County property owner & taxpayer
Founder – Tallahassee www.taxteaparty.com in 2007
Born in Tallahassee, 1955
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