Orange Co. leaders propose spending of $60M in tourist tax



Orange County leaders made proposals in a meeting Tuesday concerning how they will spend $60 million in revenue from tourist taxes.

Some want it to go strictly toward tourism, but others want it to benefit locals, too.

The deal could help fund improvements at venues across the city.

"I believe if I'm paying for these improvements, I might as well enjoy them myself instead of outsiders," said taxpayer Elian Morales.

Orange County residents WFTV talked to were skeptical of tourism development funds going to the Orange County Convention Center and tourism outlets alone.

Instead, some hope the money helps refurbish the Citrus Bowl, aid the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and contribute to a new stadium for Orlando City Soccer.

"I absolutely think a major league soccer team here would be a huge benefit and very exciting, so, hopefully we can get that happening here," said taxpayer Nicole Gutierrez.

Team President Phil Rawlins said he knows $20 million in proposed support could make or break the teams' hopes for future in major league soccer.

"They always said a commitment to funding the stadium, not building, but funding the stadium was key to us getting a franchise," Rawlins said.

However, Commissioner Fred Brummer agrees with hotelier Harris Rosen, who wrote a letter to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs in July, saying that the county's first priority should be the convention center and promoting tourism.

"Tourism, no matter what, is still substantial lifeblood of central Florida," said Brummer.

Members of the performing arts center, Florida Citrus Sports, Orlando City Soccer and Visit Florida are on the agenda to make presentations at Tuesday's meeting.