Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, mired in a stalemate over how to spend Tourist Development Tax money, is trying to keep a level head and stressing the need to keep everything in the public sphere.

At Tuesday’s county commission meeting, she spoke of the need to be careful going forward, citing the county’s 2 percent capped growth rate from a 2007 interlocal agreement as a reason why they had to be conservative with their spending.

Jacobs said the county has three “buckets” for spending TDT money – some money needs to go towards improving the science center, sports-related venues, the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center and more, some needs to go toward settling debt, and still more may need to be considered for the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association proposal released earlier this year.

“I have faith that we can work through these issues, and do it in a transparent fashion,” she said.

Jacobs said the CFHLA’s attempt to put their proposal for an application process in the charter for the county was “not the right way to do this,” and said the county would work towards developing the process on their own time if the proposal is not put into the charter.

She stressed most the need for transparency in all their dealings, and for the public to be able to decide on how the tourist tax money is spent, rather than it being pushed through the charter as the CFHLA is trying to do.

“I would prefer for us to address the process directly and immediately through public input,” she said in a news conference after the meeting. “I’ve always said that. No backroom deals, nobody negotiating or getting packages. It all comes to the board, individually, just like we do with our arts and cultural affairs.”

On Friday, the Tourist Development Council will meet again and discuss how to move forward with the TDT spending.

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