At their meeting on April 14, the County Commissioners reviewed a report on the impact of COVID-19 on Tourist Development Tax (TDT) revenue, which funds the Leon County Division of Tourism and the Council on Culture and Arts (COCA).
TDT is collected on overnight stays in Leon County. According to the report, Leon County taxes at the full five percent authorized by state statute had projected $5.9 million in TDT revenue in FY 2020.
Social distancing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has decreased TDT revenue, requiring both the Division of Tourism and COCA to adjust their budgets.
According to the report, a reduction of $2.088 million in TDT revenue is projected for FY 2020. Approximately, $1.65 million of this (80 percent) would support the County’s Division of Tourism, and $435,021 (20 percent) would support COCA.
The report notes that these projections will likely be modified and that they assume a gradual return to normal travel patterns beginning in August and September.
The report includes a list of reductions in the Division of Tourism’s expenditures aligning with its anticipated $1.65 million shortfall.
Expenditure Category / Reduction Amount
Zimmerman Marketing Advertising Services $40,000
Paid Advertising, Media Buys and Digital Production Initiatives $780,013
Zimmerman Public Relations Services & Programming $85,000
Downs & St. Germain Research Services $16,000
Scott Carswell LLC Concert Services $10,000
Ampitheater Concert Fund $145,931
Visitor Center Lease on Jefferson Street $6,500
Staff Travel and Training $52,731
Event Grants & Aid $203,758
Sponsorships & Promotions $143,498
Office Operational Expenses $87,280
Miscellaneous Services $78,500
COCA will also need to make budget cuts to deal with its $435,021 shortfall.
According to the report, “At the time of this writing, COCA’s Executive Director reported making a series of budget cuts and is preparing for further reductions of fixed costs. COCA’s Executive Director plans to utilize COCA’s reserve balance to keep the arts organization operating as needed, under the guidance of its Board of Directors, and does not anticipate staff reductions at this time.”
COCA is also developing a financial action plan and will share it with the Board of County Commissioners when it is complete.