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Commissioner Moore: "Apopka should take a more conservative approach to its TDT grant request"

A $13 million application is unlikely to be awarded


Some of you might remember this past year the catharsis around the Board of County Commissioners deciding how to spend the Tourist Development Tax dollars.  I must have attended a half dozen regular and special meetings before making the motion to redirect additional funding from Visit Orlando to funding to the Application Review Committee for smaller grants to cities and entities spread out throughout the county.

There are some who would prefer the state to allow bed tax dollars to be spent on transportation needs, homeless services, affordable housing efforts, and additional social safety net programs.  However, this tax was promulgated in the late 1970s by the tourism industry to build Orlando’s then-fledgling tourism economy. The Florida Legislature still controls the terms of the TDT dollars. Yet, no one can argue against the success of Orlando as the top tourist destination in the United States.

Orange County Commissioner District 2 Christine Moore
Orange County Commissioner District 2 Christine Moore

I remember calling Mayor (Bryan) Nelson about the potential to improve the Apopka Amphitheater because the county commissioners and I had agreed at these meetings to allocate more ARC funding towards building, supporting, or improving facilities outside of the big venues. At that time, Mayor Nelson mentioned he needed $500,000 for improvements at the amphitheater. I encouraged him to think bigger, as the ARC minimum grant amount was $2 million.

I kept encouraging the City of Apopka to apply throughout the winter months because so much of TDT funding has been distributed to the Convention Center, City of Orlando, and occasionally a smaller grant amount like $5 million to Winter Park. The geographic diversity of grant funding was something the entire BCC was seeking. I believe the Amphitheater is a slam dunk to earn several million dollars of TDT funding.

When Apopka’s application was returned to the county a few weeks ago, while extremely well written and documented as to its benefits, there was a much larger request for $13 million. I have never seen a smaller municipality receive this large one-time grant. Additionally, the ARC Committee has only $15-20 million annually to award. The requested funds for upgraded amenities at the Northwest Recreation Complex could cause the entire application to be rejected.

The Application Review Committee has received 14 requests totaling $125 million to distribute from a source of money totaling $15-20 million. I recommend the City of Apopka take a more conservative approach or phase in their application requests over several years.

Apopka Amphitheater, Northwest Recreation Facility, Apopka, Orange County, Tourist Development Tax, Visit Orlando, Orange County Commissioner Christine Moore, Opinion


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