BROOKSVILLE — County commissioners voted unanimously to raise the bed tax from 3 to 5 cents on the dollar and use the money to help bolster the county tourism department’s operating budget.
The tourism development tax — commonly known as the bed tax — is collected primarily from motel, hotel and campground owners. People who own or manage living accommodations for a period of six months or less are also subject to the tax.
Hernando County has not raised the tax since 1998.
The increase will bring in about $260,000 per year, said Tourism Development Coordinator Tammy Heon. The money will allow the county to be more competitive with marketing, Heon said.
“With that amount of money, we can do a lot of advertising to bring more tourists to Hernando County,” Commissioner Nick Nicholson said.
Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes asked Heon if she could make do with on a one-cent increase. Heon said it would keep the doors open on the county’s two welcome centers. But after discussion, the board agreed that the full two cents was needed to keep staff in place and expand marketing opportunities.
Heon said the walk-in traffic at 31085 Cortez Blvd., about one-tenth of a mile east of Interstate 75, has steadily decreased in the past couple years. The increase in bed tax money would allow for at least two billboards along I-75 that would hopefully attract more visitors, she said.