Despite a downturn in June, likely due to the effect of Tropical Storm Debby, the county’s bed tax revenues for the first three-quarters of the fiscal year are running well ahead of the previous year.


Despite a downturn in June, likely due to the effect of Tropical Storm Debby, the county’s bed tax revenues for the first three-quarters of the fiscal year are running well ahead of the previous year.



Based on data shared this week by the Tourist Development Council, collections for the 2 percent bed tax, which is charged on all overnight accommodations, is running at $619,109 so far for the 2011-12 fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.



This is 14.9 percent more, or about $80,000 more, than was collected by this time in 2010-11, when year-to-date totals through June were $536,976.



“Judging from what we know about rentals for July and August, we will finish off a pretty good season,” said Curt Blair, administrator of the TDC. “Based on some advanced reservation reports, October and November look like they could top our records. Thanks to BP and our marketing people, we have certainly rebounded from 2010.”



May was a particularly robust month for the county, as bed tax revenues came in at $140,203, nearly $50,000 more than the $90,634 collected in May 2011, or a jump of nearly 55 percent.



But June 2012, compounded by the effect of June 23 to 27 Tropical Storm Debby, showed a sharp decline from the year before. Bed tax revenues for the entire month tallied $143,805, a drop-off of about 16.4 percent, or little more than $28,000 below, the record-high June 2011 numbers of $172,029.



“June shows to be down a little bit, but the June numbers may be off because of Tropical Storm Debbie,” said Blair. “Some of the lodging companies have a delay in their reporting so July should be proportionately higher.”



July is traditionally one of the county’s strongest months for bed tax revenues, which in 2011 posted revenues of nearly $148,000.



A review of bed tax revenues for the 2011-12 fiscal year shows that every month other than June was higher than the year before, paced by February, which ran nearly 49 percent better than in 2010-11. In Feb. 2012, revenues ran slightly more than $52,000, our about $17,000 more than the $35,000 posted in Feb, 2011.



Jan. 2012 numbers ran about 21 percent better than the year before, about $5,000 better than in 2011, while Oct. and Nov. 2011 tallies were each about 30 percent better than the year before.



At the outset of this summer’s county budget deliberations, Fran Edwards, an administrative staffer for the TDC, reported that in the 2010-11 fiscal year, $803,141 was collected through Sept. 30, 2011, an increase over the previous year by nearly $49,000. She said this money represents an economic impact generated to the county of over $40 million dollars from overnight rentals alone, not including additional tourist dollars flowing in from sales to restaurants, gas stations, souvenir shops, and other tourist-related activities including fishing charters and purchases of seafood-related venues.



Edwards praised the county commissioners “for your very wise decision to use the existing TDC contractors to promote Franklin County with the BP funds. Beginning with Helen Spohrer’s managerial and marketing expertise, she led the project with the assistance of the creative genius of 2kwebgroup, Bay Media, and Forgotten Coast TV, who developed promotional plans and accomplished expanded marketing that will benefit this county for tourism for years to come.”



Edwards said TV coverage was expanded from the eastern seaboard, westward as far as Texas, and north to the Canadian border, and statistics were captured through activities on the internet promotions. “Social media was used to the max! Facebook, twitter, and Bay Media’s creative e-mail newsletters were used to continually e-blast information across the internet,” she said. “Our email database list has quadrupled in the past two years.”



She said local video was filmed for fishing and culinary programs that will be shown on TV for years to come, and public TV filmed numerous footage of artists and artistic programs relating to Franklin County as an art destination.



In mid-July, visit Florida set up a free satellite media program broadcasting live from St. George Island that reached over 30 cable and network stations at no cost to the TDC. Edwards said Josh Hodson, park manager of the Dr. Julian Bruce St. George Island State Park, recently invited all Florida state park managers to visit and network Franklin County to promote what natural, historical and cultural resources this county provides, and more than 200 managers responded.