Who benefits from the bed tax

Historic City News readers in St Augustine and St Johns County are asking, “Who benefits from the bed tax?”

The answer is — it depends on who you ask.

Like many “taxes” there are readers who will tell you that nobody benefits.

When you look at the cost of administration of the Tourist Development Council, which exists solely to administer the bed tax, there are those that will tell you that only folks like Glenn Hastings are beneficiaries. Add Hastings $95,082 paycheck, plus full county benefits, and his “office manager” who earns another $41,440, you might ask if we are better off with it — or without it.

There are those “in the know” readers who will tell you that the Visitors and Convention Bureau could not operate without bed tax funding; obtained from the Tourist Development Council. Of course, Hastings formerly wore the executive director’s hat at both; ever since the breakup, we are told the VCB has enough independent sources of revenue that they could continue to be an effective marketing organization for the area — but then again, they might have to join forces with the Chamber of Commerce. I guess you can’t mix the “haves” and the “have-nots”.

Then there are those on the bottom of totem pole — the folks, most of whom are volunteers, retirees, or gifted residents willing to share their talents, who generously put together the content of entertainment and cultural programs. They will tell you that the end of the bed tax would be the end of their contribution.

Some of the more visible of those content producers are lining up tomorrow, as they do each year, hats in their hands, asking the Arts, Culture and Heritage Funding Panel and Tourist Development Council members for their piece of the government cheese, so to speak.

Scored HIGHEST to LOWEST, this year’s list of thirty-six organizations:

St Augustine Lighthouse and Museum, Sea Your History Festival $81,000.00
St Augustine Music Festiveal, Music Festival $22,000.00
Romanza, Festival Marketing $100,000.00
Committee for Nightwatch, British Nightwatch $10,000.00
Public Affairs Dept City St Augustine, Concerts in the Plaza $10,000.00
Florida Heritage Book Festival, Writers Conference $40,000.00
Ft Lauderdale St Augustine Film Festival, Four Day Film Festival $10,000.00
Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach, Four Events $30,000.00
Historic Florida Militia, Re-enactments $10,000.00
St Augustine Yacht Club, Holida Regatta/Blessing of the Fleet $9,000.00
Florida Trust for Historic Preservation, Statewide Conference $25,000.00
Friends of St Augustine Amphitheatre, Flamenco Dance Theatre $27,275.00
EMMA Concert Association, 13th Season $50,000.00
St Augustine Regional Council, Passeo Pastel Chalk Festival $25,000.00
EPIC Community Services, Taste of St Augustine $10,000.00
St Augustine Art Association, Art & Craft, Nature Exhibition $30,000.00
Ponte Vedra Chamber of Commerce, Wine Festival Car Show $25,000.00
St Augustine Historic Inns Association, Holiday Tour $14,000.00
St Augustine Beach Civic Association, Four Events $26,000.00
St Joseph Ministries Stained Glass Studio, American Glass Guild $10,000.00
The Dance Company, Winter Spectacular $60,000.00
ArtBreakers, Cancer Charity Festival $10,000.00
Florida Literary Arts Coalition, Writers Conference $80,000.00
St Augustine Community Chorus, Three Concerts $10,000.00
Flagler College Legacy Tours, Flagler 125th tours $100,000.00
First Coast Opera, Passione Merry Widow $15,000.00
Gamble Rogers Folk Festival, Festival and Workshops $100,000.00
St. Augustine 450th Corporation, Noche de Gala Grand Procession $5,940.00
St Augustine Easter Week Festival, Easter Week Festival $10,000.00
City of St Augustine 450th Commemoration, Picasso Exhibition $100,000.00
Limelight Theatre, Season Support $50,000.00
St Augustine Maritime Heritage Foundation, Chalupa Project $10,000.00
St Augustine Community Orchestra, Concert Series $10,000.00
Ft Mose Historical Society, Lincolnville Festival $50,000.00
Don Ausmon Foundation, Don’s Friends Fun Fest $15,000.00
Childrens Museum of St Johns, Explorer’s Package $50,000.00
TOTAL REQUESTS $1,240,215.00

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