"It can't be used for law enforcement or fire-rescue or libraries," Hagan has said in his repeated efforts to stress bed tax revenues are limited in their uses.
But that's terribly misleading, since those revenues CAN be used for tons of things besides a stadium: from marketing to aquariums to performance centers to arts to beaches to tourist-driving festivals.
In fact, since nobody else bothered to look, I found at least $550,000 a year earmarked in the county’s general revenue budget to help promote major Tampa Bay Sports Commission (TBSC) events, such as NCAA championships. While the TBSC doesn’t use all of the funds every year, those expenditures could be funded by the bed tax, which would allow the county to spend that half-million-or-so dollars on general revenue items such as schools, sewers, or roads. A $25,000 annual general revenue subsidy for the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival would also appear to be eligible for bed tax funding.
Annnnnnnd, the state legislature just allowed cities to spend that money on even more things!
The Tampa Bay Times reports on HB 7087, on its way to the governor's desk, which allows counties such as Hillsborough and Pinellas to now use bed tax money on "transportation and sewer projects that benefit tourists and the tourism industry."
So the next question is whether Hillsborough leaders will continue to just assume the Rays deserve the $6 million per year the county's bed tax will soon raise...or if they should examine if there are better possible uses for that money?
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