Visitors Tax To Help Furnish Arts Center
By Suzy Valentine
Miami-Dade County commissioners plan to use $10.5 million in Convention Development Tax revenue to help pay for furniture, fixtures and equipment at the Performing Arts Center.
The action, approved this month by commissioners, calls for visitor-tax money to furnish the arts center’s interiors. The money had been omitted from the center’s initial budget through a process of value engineering, arts center trust chairman Parker Thomson said May 10 at a meeting.
The financing is subject to budgetary review next month and in September.
Community leaders say use of the tax, intended to benefit the local visitor industry, is authorized.
The center’s president, Michael Hardy, said more than 1,000 high-profile events the arts center is to showcase would positively impact tourism, the cause-and-effect model the tax is intended to promote.
Florida statute allows counties to levy the tax.
"It’s an eligible use under the statute," said Bill Talbert, president and CEO of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Museums and arts centers are covered by the legislation. I wasn’t around when it first came into force, but those uses are certainly justified now."
Mr. Hardy said the arts center, scheduled to open in August 2006, has conventions booked in addition to shows.
"We have two booked for future years. We have the Choral Directors Conference coming," he said, "and another choral convention. Non-arts groups will also use it."
That, he said, would lead to hotel reservations.
"Rooms will be booked around conferences," said Mr. Hardy, "and arts centers have always been magnets for tourists."