Friday’s Tourist Development Council ended positively as the board agreed to reallocate Tourist Development Tax funding to help complete the second phase of the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center and establish a bid fund for multiple sporting events.
The funds as agreed upon include an additional $45 million to go towards the Dr. Phillips center, which will help complete the Steinmetz Hall.
In addition, the new agreement will allocate $5 million towards establishing a sports bid fund under Visit Orlando, which would be replenished with $2 million every year thereafter.
The proposal was passed unanimously by the Tourist Development Council. It’s not in the clear yet — it’ll still have to be passed through by the City of Orlando and the Orange County Board of Commissioners, on Oct. 24 and Nov. 1 respectively, and there will be one workshop on the matter from the Board of County Commissioners.
But Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and other officials, including Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, were optimistic, and couldn’t see any downsides to the deal.
“We’re extremely supportive of restructuring the debt,” said Dyer. “This will enable us to pay off a 30-year debt in 10 years. That way, money becomes available for other uses.”
Under the previous rule, the county had to give the city excess revenue over a certain threshold, which would be put into an escrow account of sorts, not able to be used on important projects. Now, instead, they’ll be able to use more money faster to complete an array of projects around Orange County and Orlando.
Some of those other uses include the Orlando Science Center, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orlando Ballet, the Downtown CRA, and Visit Orlando.
Jacobs said the sweetest part of the deal to her was that, only a few months ago, there was doubt and confusion over what the TDC would do and what actions would need to be taken. Now, all those doubts have been cleared up.
“Today, because of some really smart people, we came up with a plan that gets everything done that everybody wanted,” she said.
While the issue still has more hoops to jump through, Jacobs was confident it would pass through just fine.
“I never count on the board’s vote,” she said. “I never take for it granted — but I cannot find anything not to love about the plan, and boy I’m a critic. And, I play devils advocate, I think its a healthy thing to do. But I can’t find anything not to support and love about this plan. I cant predict any reason why someone wouldn’t support this.”