Santa Rosa County tourism staff in 2014 began reporting to county administration instead of an appointed tourism council. Tourism revenues since then have climbed from $2.175 million to $2.8 million last fiscal year.
But despite the more than 25 percent growth in tourism revenues, Jack Sanborn, an appointee to the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council, today made an unsuccessful push for the TDC to provide feedback in the job performance evaluation of Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Director Julie Morgan.
“We have absolutely no input on the evaluation process,” Sanborn said, suggesting the TDC have some weight in the matter.
However, County Administrator Dan Schebler quickly shut down Sanborn’s effort.
“Mr. Sanborn and I have had this conversation at least twice, by my recollection, and my position remains the same. The Tourist Development Office works for the (County Administrator),” Schebler stated, pointing out that when Santa Rosa County made the TDO a county government function, tourism staff stopped working for the TDC.
Schebler then clarified the role of TDC members.
“The TDC has responsibility for ensuring that the county and the TDO are appropriately using the tourist development tax revenues as authorized (by Florida Statutes). Schebler added that if such funds are not being used appropriately it’s the TDC’s responsibility to bring that issue forward to the county or state.
“Nowhere in the (F.S.S.) 125.01 statute does it talk about oversight of the TDO office,” Schebler said, providing the example of how appointed county zoning board members do not have input into the job evaluation of the county’s planning and zoning director.
“I see no value in it. I see no purpose in it,” stated Schebler of Sanborn’s suggestion.
Commissioner Sam Parker, who is appointed to the TDC to represent the board of county commissioners, agreed with Schebler, stating that he stays out of county personnel issues and defers those back to the County Administrator. “I’m not involved enough with each department,” Parker said.
TDC Chairman Kyle Holley said he agrees with Parker but was glad the council could have an “open discussion” about the issue.
“And that’s all I wanted,” stated Sanborn.
The next TDC meeting is planned for 8:30 a.m., Tuesday July 10 at Tiger Point Community Center, located at 1370 Tiger Point Lane in Gulf Breeze.