By DOTTY NIST
The South Walton Tourist Development (TDC) has approved a proposed budget for fiscal year 2013-14 totaling approximately $15.1 million.
The decision took place at a May 14 special meeting at the South Walton Courthouse Annex.
The budget reflected a $1.357 million transfer from reserves to cover expenses not previously funded through the TDC, including maintenance of the south Walton County bike paths, pick-up of trash along those paths and county roads, and improvements to the bike paths.
The TDC budget is funded through bed taxes collected from short-term rental accommocations south of the bay.
TDC member Richard Veldman made a request to District 5 Commissioner/TDC Chair Cindy Meadows. He asked that, in light of the TDC taking on the new $1.357 million responsibility, that the county commission strive to get a handle on the garbage collection issue in south Walton County. “It’s just atrocious,” Veldman complained.
“It is,” Meadows agreed. The problem, she said, is the Saturday checkout day for short-term rentals, with garbage collection not occurring until Monday or even Tuesday in some cases. Meadows said she is supporting starting up a pilot recycling program in south Walton County. She also agreed to pursue having a Saturday garbage collection.
TDC member Gus Andrews urged for the garbage collection service to get their pick-up schedule “set in stone” for June and July.
Total administrative expenses for the FY 2013-14 budget come to approximately $1.9 million. Marketing expenses total slightly over $2.9 million, new product development expenses $1.4+ million, total shoulder season expenses $1.7+ million, beach maintenance expenses $2.5+ million, beach nourishment expenses almost $3.2 million, and emerging market expenses almost $1.6 million.
In addition to the proposed budget, council members voted to approve a media and co-op plan presented by TDC consultants Zehnder Communications and $425,000 in funding for sponsorship of events for the new fiscal year. Approved as well was a $50,000 request for development of marketing plans to promote the launch of Generation 2.0 of the “Visit South Walton” mobile app.
The council members voted to approve a committee recommendation to proceed with Seahaven Consulting as beach management consultant. In other business, they also voted to recommend $394,840 in funding to allow the South Walton Artificial Reef Association to proceed with permitting of 18 artificial reefs, including snorkel and skin diving reefs in the gulf and oyster reefs in the bay.
Decisions by the TDC are subject to final consideration by the Walton County Board of County Commissioners in public session.
Detailed information on the TDC budget and other agenda items is available on the Web site www.visitsouthwalton.org.
The next meeting of the TDC is scheduled for 9 a.m on June 11 at the South Walton Courthouse Annex.