Numbers released show 14.7 percent drop in tourist dollars

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — The latest figures released by Indian River County show the tourist tax for hotels and seasonal properties through this June has accounted for $184,137 less than the year before, a 14.76 percent drop from June 2008.”Everything’s down,” said Ruth Bommarito, who works in the county’s budget department. “It’s sad.”

The tax collections for June are down 4.5 percent from a year ago – or $4,251.93. The drop accounts for 2.3 percent of the year’s total decline. Fiscal years start Oct. 1 and run through to Sept. 30 the following year.

Numbers in November (2008) and December (2008) were the strongest for the county. Both saw an increase in tourist tax dollars over their 2007 counterparts — but only by 2.25 percent and 1.22 percent, respectively.

So far this fiscal year, the worst months for collecting the tourist dollars have been Feburary and March, which saw more than a 20 percent decrease from a year before.

February’s drop was 23.31 percent from the previous year, while March’s was 26.19 percent. Part of the reason is that the seasonal residents tend to start leaving for their northern homes at that time.

Despite the poor numbers, June’s drop was better than in May, which was a little more than 13 percent.

Bommarito said the increase in tax dollars in June could be partly attributed to school being out for summer and families coming to Indian River County for visits.

What the numbers will be for July and August remain to be seen. It is possible that, due to a slow hurricane season, the numbers could be even better as tourists take one more trip before school begins Aug. 24.

Tourist tax dollars account for 1 1/2 cents of the county’s 4-cent bed tax. The rest of the 4-cent tax gets split between beach restoration (1 1/2 cents) and Dodgertown bond financing (1 cent).

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