In this week's Tampa Bay Business Journal segment, editor Alexis Muellner discusses how Hillsborough County has set a record for "bed tax" collections in just 11 months, the renovations the Lightning are completing, and why Alexis has mixed feelings about the TECO deal.
There is good news for Hillsborough County taxpayers as well as local businesses that rely on tourism.
In the first 11 months of its fiscal year, Visit Tampa Bay reports the county collected a record $25 million from the so-called "bed tax," an increase of 5.45% over 2014.
The tourism development tax, as it is officially known, is a tax added on to hotel bills.
Alexis says one of the keys is the Visit Tampa Bay, the marketing organization for Hillsborough County, is focused on attracting more tourists and leisure business from Brazil, Germany and India to come to the county.
The tax revenue increase means two things.
First, it helps fill the county's coffers. That helps pay for services county residents depend on.
Second, it means like restaurants, hotels and theme parks could be more likely to hire additional employees with the additional business they are seeing.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are less than a week away from beginning training camp. While the team practices in Brandon, crews are putting the final touches on a $25 million dollar renovation to Amalie Arena.
The team is completely rebuilding the club level concourse. It added 34 loges with 156 seats on the area's north end. Each loge sells for $60,000 apiece and includes every event at the arena.
Despite making a run to the Stanley Cup Finals in June, the Lightning are still losing money. Team officials would just like to break even and hope the renovations will allow them to do that.
Alexis said Emera CEO Chris Huskilson said all the right things at during when the sale was announced. The company said they will allow TECO to remain under local control, retain most of its employees, and be involved in the community.
However, Alexis says that is all spin and does have some misgivings about the sale.
"I have mixed feelings about it," said Mueller. "It is, no matter how you cut it the loss of a corporate headquarters."
He hopes Emera will not take the "Tampa" out of "TECO."