Orlando City Council OKs joint agreement to use $19 million for additional Dr. Phillips construction costs

ORLANDO, Fla. — The City Council on Monday approved a joint agreement between the city, Orange County and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to use an additional $19 million to cover phase two of the center’s construction project.

The money, which covers ballooning construction costs and a lack of state funds, will come from Tourist Development Tax dollars that is generated by visitors, and keeps the project on track to be completed by this fall.

“It’s filling those holes,” said Mayor Buddy Dyer, who also serves on the TDT and Orlando City councils. Both unanimously voted to give more TDT funds to phase two of construction.

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Last month, Kathy Ramsberger, the center’s president and CEO, said phase two of the project was increasing by $34 million, and an additional $19 million was needed in Tourist Development Tax funds to offset rising costs.

TDT funding is a 6% tax mostly paid for by visitors staying in area hotels for vacation or business, which in 2019 generated almost $284 million, about $7 million more than in 2018. There is a TDT funding balance of about $285 million, according to the Orange County Comptroller.

Ramsberger’s presentation in December reported the Dr. Phillips Center received more than $200 million in TDT funding in the past.

“There are a whole bunch of funding sources that have gone into the Dr. Philips Center," Dyer said. "CRA (Community Redevelopment Agency) money has gone in, private philanthropy has gone in. Certainly, using taxes that are generated by our tourism community is an appropriate use.”

Ramsberger, the center’s president, is set to give a presentation to county commissioners on Tuesday. If the commission signs off, then the money is approved.


Cierra Putman

Cierra Putman, WFTV.com

Cierra Putman flew south to join Eyewitness News in July 2016.