Buy a tourist a drink; they’ll cover the Convention Center remodel.
Miami Beach voters approved the resort tax hike by a two to one margin
In an election that saw a measly 20% county-voter turnout, 67% of beach residents who voted backed raising the resort tax. The breakdown was 4,783 for and 2,334 against.
The Miami Beach Commission can now raise up to one percent in “bed taxes” to go towards renovating the Convention Center. After all repayments for the remodel of the MBCC have been made, the revenue from the tax will go towards a Capital Renewal and Replacement Fund to keep up the center.
“It sends a positive message that we are really serious about moving forward,” said Stuart Blumberg, Chairman of the Miami Beach Convention Center Advisory Board and sitting North Bay Village Commissioner. “It brings more money to the table.”
The MBCC Advisory Board were the first to ask for this tax raise, and were opposed by the administration of then City Manager Jorge Gonzalez.
Blumberg called on the hotel and tourism industry to take up the fight, and lead the campaign. In the days and weeks before the election- only the pro-tax voice made a big push with advertisements like the “vote yes” bubble financed by the tourism and business industry.
“Two to one margin in an environment not in favor of taxes being raised,” Blumberg told the SunPost. “Speaks volumes of the tourism industry coming together to educate the public.”
What the next step for the convention center is still unknown. The administration has yet to make a recommendation as to which developer to choose. City Hall is waiting to see a conclusion to the investigation on the former Procurement Director Gus Lopez, who was forced to resign due to suspicious emails relating to the convention center’s bidding process.
Still the passing of a tax hike brings new hope there will eventually be an upgrade to the MBCC.
Blumberg said if the big picture didn’t move forward, the tax – with additional mechanisms, could be used as a ‘safety net’ or ‘plan B’ for funding a project that will eventually lead to an upgraded convention center with a hotel.
“Right now we are part of the of the RFQ,” he said.