TAMPA — The Hillsborough County Tourist Development Council on Thursday deferred discussion on possible new guidelines to begin in 2016 to determine how much local attractions might share in bed tax funds, a plan some venue officials feared could eliminate funding entirely.
Those plans will be discussed in more detail over the next 12 months, as the next decision point for funding decisions on a three-year cycle won’t occur until November 2014.
The TDC, comprised of elected and industry officials, voted to redeploy funds from certain reserves to better enable Hillsborough’s visitors bureau — Visit Tampa Bay — and Tampa Convention Center to compete for conferences with other cities.
Those cities include Orlando and Fort Lauderdale, whose conference venues provide incentives to recruit business.
The TDC voted to put $500,000 from a pre-recession business contingency reserve that has not been used to create a new reserve fund for incentives, pending Visit Tampa Bay devising guidelines for using the money. The funds would remain under TDC control.
The TDC also created a reserve fund for the Tampa Convention Center, allocating $500,000 from $900,000 available in a separate, unrestricted reserve fund.
And the TDC divided $900,000 available from bed tax funds that were higher than budgeted as the economy improved in fiscal 2013, with 60 percent going to the visitors bureau, 20 percent to the new reserve for the Convention Center and 20 percent remaining with the TDC.
The Convention Center’s most immediate needs for $14 million in improvements overall are $4.1 million to replace its elevators and 10 escalators.