By TRISH DAY
On Feb. 2, the Tourist Development Council (TDC) held its regularly scheduled meeting at the South Walton Annex Boardroom. All members were present.
Jason Cutshaw, Director of Administration, delivered an in-depth financial report covering the final months of 2021. October revenue was $3.4 million, which was 25% higher than last year. November revenue was just under $1.7 million. December revenue has not been posted but is up from the previous year. Bed tax collection, year to date, is $5,035,631.
The next agenda item was the nomination and election of the TDC Board members. They are:
Seat 1: County Commissioner Mike Barker
Seat 2: Eddie Farris, Secretary
Seat 3: Todd Bierbaum, Treasurer
Seat 4: Jennifer Frost, Chair
Seat 5: Scott Russell, Vice Chair
Seat 6: Andrew Czarnecki
Seat 7: Jim Shirley
Seat 8: Micah Davis
Seat 9: Tim Taylor
A request was presented for recommendation to use TDT (Tourist Development Tax) funds to expand the Beach Basket Program with a cost not to exceed $10,000. This pilot program was created by local high school student, Hannah Smith. Hannah was concerned about litter on the beach and in the water. She came up with a plan to place baskets near the Grayton Beach Access for beachgoers to use to collect trash while visiting the beach and then emptying them into the larger collection bins as they exit the beach. The pilot program has been a huge success, and the TDC would like to expand it to all regional beach accesses.
Approval was requested to initiate an Art Mural Project with an initial cost of $50,000. The Art Murals, under the direction of the Cultural Arts Alliance, would enhance the beauty of public buildings and beach access areas while also highlighting the culture of Walton County and its surrounding natural resources.
There was a request to recommend to the BCC to hold a public hearing to consider amending the tourist development tax and the plan for tourist development for the 12 months beginning March 1, 2022. The area to be included would be all of Walton County lying south of the Intracoastal Waterway. The anticipated tax revenue for the 12 month period following levy of the tax at 5% is approximately $50 million.
All TDC action items must be approved by the Board of County Commissioners. The next TDC Meeting is scheduled for April 5 at 9 a.m. at the South Walton Annex.