The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners, at its March 2017 meeting, voted to amend its distribution rules of the Tourist Development Council funds to mandate that unallocated “Bricks and Mortar” monies from one fiscal year remain in the “Bricks and Mortar” fund for the next fiscal year.
Under the new amendment, funds no longer are allowed to be rolled into advertising and special event promotion, unless a request to do so by a TDC District Advisory Committee (DAC) is approved by the BOCC.
As a result of this rule change, $1.7 million of unallocated “Bricks and Mortar” funding for capital projects from Fiscal Year 2017 will roll over to the “Bricks and Mortar” DAC funds for Fiscal Year 2018, instead of likely being spent on advertising or event promotion.
“I know what the Keys were like in the 70s before the TDC – there were times it was like a ghost town,” Monroe County Commissioner David Rice said. “We don’t want to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. But we also need a balance. Using the money intended for bricks and mortar on projects that benefit the quality of life for our residents and improve the experience for our visitors is a good thing for everybody.”
For FY 2018, the TDC is budgeting for approximately $36.4 million in new revenue, which is raised from the portion of the local bed tax that goes to the TDC. Twenty-five percent of this new TDC revenue – approximately $9.1 million – is put into the “Bricks and Mortar” funds for each of the five District Advisory Committees. The County, municipalities and local non-profits can apply for these funds for capital projects during FY 2018.
The BOCC also voted at its March meeting to make the “Bricks and Mortar” funds easier to obtain by allowing Keys’ cities to apply for 100 percent funding of projects (up from 50 percent) and non-profits to apply for 75 percent (up from 50 percent). Non-profits also can receive in-kind contributions that value up to 50 percent of their out-of-pocket costs for a project.
When you add the $9.1 million in new TDC funds and the $1.7 million rollover of unallocated “Bricks and Mortar” funding from FY 2017, it totals $10.8 million for new capital projects in FY2018. There also is an additional $8.3 million in rollover funds from capital projects that have been approved in FY2017 but are not completed. This bring the total amount of TDC funds available for capital projects in FY 2018 to approximately $19 million.
“This is the biggest number we’ve ever had for capital projects in one fiscal year,” Tourist Development Council Executive Director Harold Wheeler said.
The $8.3 million in approved capital projects, which are not yet completed and rolling into FY 2018, include: approximately $2 million for Truman Waterfront; $1.3 million for Higgs Beach sand nourishment and nearly $2 million for projects at the Fort East Martello Museum. These are all in Key West. Other work jobs in the pipeline include approximately $900,000 for projects at Pigeon Key in the Middle Keys and $220,000 for projects at the Dolphin Research Center on Grassy Key.
(The total TDC budget for FY 2018 is projected at $58.6 million. This figure includes the projected new revenue, as well as rollover revenue from FY 2017, unexpended contracts for events and capital, and rollover of emergency funds).