MILTON — Tourists could soon be paying slightly more to vacation in Santa Rosa County.
County commissioners on Monday discussed increasing the amount of money the county collects on vacation rentals from 4 cents to 5 cents on the dollar. The additional revenue, which has been estimated to collect about $250,000 a year, would be used to help fund the cost of future beach restoration projects.
“This would allow the tourists who visit our area to participate in the funding of the beach renourishment and I think it’s an excellent idea,” said Commissioner Jim Melvin.
The board will vote on increasing the bed tax at Thursday’s meeting. While a typical item requires the approval of just three or more of the board members, the bed tax increase requires a super majority of four or more commissioners.
Santa Rosa’s first beach restoration project was completed in 2006 and cost $21 million to complete. Funding for that project came from the state, which contributed $12.6 million, the Navarre Beach leaseholders, who were charged $7 million through a municipal services benefit unit, and the county, which provided $1.5 million.
The upcoming work is expected to run about $10.3 million, but the state has already informed the county they will not fund the project to the same degree they did seven years ago.
County Administrator Hunter Walker told the board that county staff will look at potential funding sources and will bring the board alternatives to the MSBU in the future.