The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners approved an emergency ordinance to provide a temporary exemption from paying the 4 cent ($0.04) tourist development tax and the 1 cent ($0.01) tourist impact tax (bed taxes) only for rental residential properties that qualify and rent to residents who have been displaced by Hurricane Irma. This ordinance will be in effect for six months.
The County Commission also passed several planning and environmental, building and code compliance items that deal with the emergency state of Monroe County due to the damage and debris caused by Hurricane Irma.
These passed resolutions include:
• Allowing the placement of temporary emergency housing at mobile home parks for the temporary occupancy by residents displaced by Hurricane Irma for a duration of up to 180 days.
• Waiving building permit fees for emergency permits for 180 days as necessary to facilitate recovery from impacts associated with Hurricane Irma.
• Exempting the removal of hazardous vegetation from the permitting requirements for 60 days as necessary to facilitate recovery from impacts associated with Hurricane Irma.
• Exempting the removal of nuisance exotic vegetation from the permitting requirements to facilitate recovery from impacts associated with Hurricane Irma.
The County Commission also approved releasing emergency Tourist Development Council funds of up to $1 million for marketing and up to $1 million for capital projects due to the impacts of Hurricane Irma.
The Monroe County Board of County Commissioners has approved $1 million in emergency funds for Tourist Development Council marketing efforts and a separate $1 million for TDC-funded capital improvement projects following Hurricane Irma. Allocations are to come from the TDC’s emergency reserves.
Meeting Wednesday at the Harvey Government Center in Key West, the BOCC approved the request after a presentation by representatives of the TDC and its advertising agency, Tinsley Advertising.
“If people don’t start putting money back in their pockets, we’re going to lose even more of our workforce,” said County Commissioner Heather Carruthers.
The Keys tourism industry employs about half the workforce.
Besides emergency marketing, funds will be used for capital projects grants to improve tourism-related facilities impacted by Irma.
“Getting approval for this funding means we can work to save our winter season, provide those necessary jobs and help (tourism-related) entities make needed repairs so they can open to the fullest capacity.” said Stacey Mitchell, the new director of the TDC, who replaced retired director Harold Wheeler.
Once county and municipal officials announced that visitors could return to the Florida Keys beginning Oct. 1, the TDC launched awareness and marketing efforts that included advertising, public relations and sales strategies.
The TDC is funded from a resort tax that visitors pay when they stay in a Keys-based lodging facility.