June 10, 2023


Just Do Travel

Pinellas tourism panel recommends more money for beach renourishment

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the Pinellas County Tourist Progress Council proposed rising the proportion of vacationer tax bucks that go to seaside renourishment.

The proposal comes as the county and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deal with an impasse in excess of the Sand Important Shore Protection venture, stalling strategies to shore up a 9-mile stretch of sand from Clearwater to north Redington Beach.

Council members voted to boost the portion of county’s mattress tax devoted to beach front renourishment by a quarter of a penny for each and every dollar taxed — from .5 pennies to .75 pennies. The shift could crank out up to $4 million for renourishment jobs, according to Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice, a member of the council.

The 6% tax is gathered on inns and other accommodations rented for significantly less than six months in Pinellas County. To be enacted, Tuesday’s recommendation would will need to be accepted by county commissioners.

The additional funding would present a “cushion” as the county carries on to shore up its shorelines, Justice mentioned.

“We desired to elevate the dialogue of seashore renourishment, and retaining our seashores is the most critical portion of protecting tourism here,” Justice reported. “This is why individuals arrive to Pinellas County, is our beach locations, so we have to shield that resource.”

The council is composed of 12 members representing regional governments and tourism-relevant organizations. Council member Phil Henderson, president and CEO of StarLite Cruises, designed the movement to increase the seaside renourishment cash, originally proposing a hike to a whole penny for just about every greenback taxed ahead of other members pushed back.

The county has federal authorizations for a few beach renourishment tasks, which include the a single at Sand Crucial. The some others are Treasure Island, which contains Sunset and Sunshine shorelines, and Extended Important, which incorporates Upham Beach front and Go-A-Grille Seaside, according to Pinellas County Director of Public Is effective Kelli Levy.

The next cycle for the Treasure Island and Very long Critical tasks will come about in 2023 as planned. But the Sand Crucial Job, which was slated to materialize in 2024, is in jeopardy, and the county will probably pass up the cycle, Levy explained.

Which is for the reason that the Army Corps of Engineers has needed that the county obtain signed perpetual easements from 100% of the people in the influenced shorelines. Although some residents have signed the easements, some others fret about turning more than part of their homes to perpetually come to be public land.

The Corps did not require 100% of the easements in earlier many years, but begun accomplishing so in 2015, Levy said. The county has obtained 48% of the 461 easements it requirements to get federal funding and participation in the Sand Key project.

“Right now we are at a standstill,” Levy reported at the council assembly.

The county and the Corps fulfilled to hash by the challenge in January, but talks have slowed considering that then, Levy stated.

Without all those remaining easements, the county will not obtain federal assist and will have to make the final decision in potential many years about regardless of whether to fund its possess renourishment venture.

As the erosion worsens, Levy explained, the county risks wasting about a $100 million it invested in building up the seashores given that the 1980s.