WALTON COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — As the state begins to open back up seven months after the pandemic began businesses are still struggling to keep their heads above water and looking for ways to boost the economy.
South Walton already collects a five percent Tourist Development Tax from visitors. Soon, there is a possibility of expanding that tax to north Walton.
Walton County voters might notice something different on their ballots this voting season. At the very bottom of this sample ballot, there is a Tourist Development Tax Referendum for anyone voting north of the bay.
“Basically a bed tax on short-term rentals, six months or less,” said Bobby Beasley the Supervisor of Elections in Walton County.
Residents north of the bay have the opportunity to vote for, or against extending this new bed tax.
The Walton TDC Executive Director Jay Tusa said this tax would have the potential to open more jobs.
“It would generate about $300 thousand a year in revenue,” said Tusa.
Megan Harrison the Walton County Chamber of Commerce president said it would be very beneficial.
“We are encouraging everyone to vote yes, to vote for the north development tax,” said Harrison.
With current South Walton tourist spending, Harrison said residents save thirteen hundred dollars a year.
State statute requires 40% of tourist tax dollars be used towards marketing.
“It encourages some economic growth because people are visiting an area they have never been to before and they say, this will be a great place to have our business,” said Harrison.
Harrison said one of the biggest misconceptions regarding the tax is residents already living in the area would have to pay it, but that is not true. It would only apply to visitors.
If the referendum passes, two elected officials north of the bay will join the TDC.