Tourism tax board turns popular


Editor & Publisher

It looks like Longboat Key is going to have some competition if it wants to place one of its own on a Manatee County Tourist Development Tax Board.


Two weeks ago, Longboat Key Commissioner Hal Lenobel agreed to pursue an open seat on the Tax Board, which collects and distributes a 5% tourism tax.

And the issue for Longboat is the desire for increased control on how much and where those tax revenues are spent.

According to Town Hall, Longboat Key has received $4,381,867 since the tax was initiated in the fiscal year 1989 – 1990. The 5% is a collection imposed on short-term vacation rental properties. The money, by law, must be spent on beaches or other expenditures that directly benefit the tourism industry.

With millions of dollars in beach groins and a renourishment needed on the north end, Lenobel said it is important Longboat has a strong voice on the Board to protect its interest.

“I have been a property owner in Manatee County on Longboat Key for 43 years and nothing is more vital to the regional economy than preserving our beaches and the infrastructure that supports our very desirable waterfront communities,” said Lenobel.

Lenobel has served 13 years on the Town of Longboat Key Commission with three as Mayor. Lenobel went on to say that while Manatee and Sarasota County residents’ may live in different communities and on different streets, the things that really add value — the arts, the beaches and natural beauty — we all share and we must  be diligent to protect and maintain.

“That will be my effort on the tax board,” said Lenobel.

But meanwhile, two Holmes Beach Commissioners – Jean Peelen and Sandy Haas-Martens — also want the post.

Throughout April, Peelen reportedly sought support from Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach to be named to the Tax Board. Haas-Marten has held the seat, which is now open, since 2000.

The 5% tax revenues have traditionally funded such institutions as the Manatee Convention Civic Center, Crosley Estate, Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau as well as beach projects on Longboat Key and Anna Maria.

The nine-member Tourist Tax Board advises the Manatee County Commission. The Manatee County Commission is expected to fill the vacancy at its next regular meeting on May 22.




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