Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Giving hotel tax to Dali troubles Clearwater leaders

CLEARWATER — Officials in Clearwater are asking questions about the Salvador Dali Museum's attempt to get $5 million in hotel room taxes to finish its new building in St. Petersburg.

Clearwater's hotels generate about a third of the "bed tax" collected in all of Pinellas County. So Clearwater leaders want to make sure the area gets its fair share when that tax money gets spent.

They say they appreciate the fact that the Dali Museum is a unique attraction. But Clearwater officials are also relieved that Pinellas County's Tourist Development Council is taking its time before making a decision about the museum's multimillion-dollar request.

"It's a fairness issue," said City Council member Carlen Petersen, who is also a voting member of the tourism council. "There are other organizations throughout the county that would love to have that kind of money."

Hotel guests pay a 5 percent tax on their rooms in Pinellas County, and the roughly $23 million collected each year goes to promote local tourism.

The Dali Museum this week asked for $5 million to complete its new $36 million museum that's supposed to open next year. It will be twice as big and significantly more hurricane-proof than the existing museum.

But there's stiff competition for the hotel tax money. Most of it pays for advertising Pinellas County to tourists. About a fifth of it goes to debt payments on Tropicana Field and baseball stadiums in Clearwater and Dunedin. And some goes to beach renourishment.

The subject came up at Thursday night's Clearwater City Council meeting.

"You really don't want to be parochial," Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard said, noting that the Dali Museum draws visitors from all over the world. But he also said a lot of hotel taxes have gone to pay off the Trop, and some North Pinellas attractions might deserve funding, too, such as Ruth Eckerd Hall, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and the Capitol Theatre.

On the other hand, City Council member George Cretekos suggested it might be shortsighted for the county not to bail out the museum because it's one of only two Dali museums in the world.

Clearwater officials and hoteliers are worried that giving $5 million to the Dali will lead to cuts in the county's tourism advertising.

The Tourist Development Council has decided to look into the issue and perhaps make a decision by March.

"I don't want this to dissolve into a parochial discussion" about how much money is spent north or south of Ulmerton Road, said Council member John Doran. "The better discussion is, what is the best use of this money for all of us?"

Mike Brassfield can be reached at or (727) 445-4160.

Giving hotel tax to Dali troubles Clearwater leaders 01/15/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 15, 2010 8:25pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Amazon receives 238 proposals from places eager to become its 2nd headquarters


    NEW YORK — Amazon said Monday that it received 238 proposals from cities and regions in the United States, Canada and Mexico hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters.

    Earlier this month, an Amazon employee gives her dog a biscuit as the pair head into a company building, where dogs are welcome, in Seattle. Amazon says it received 238 proposals from cities and regions hoping to be the home of the company's second headquarters. 
[AP Photo/Elaine Thompson]
  2. Police may have found the body of a Texas toddler whose dad said he banished her to an alley


    Police in Texas say they have "most likely" found the body of Sherin Mathews, the missing 3-year-old girl whose father claims he sent her alone into an alley when she wouldn't drink her milk.

    This undated photo provided by the Richardson Texas Police Department shows 3-year-old Sherin Mathews. Police in a Dallas suburb say they've found the body of a small child, not far from the home of Sherin Mathews, who's been missing since early this month. (Richardson Texas Police Department via AP)
  3. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: What went wrong on defense?


    Greg Auman is back from Buffalo, going back over a difficult finish and tough loss for the Bucs, in his latest Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Buffalo Bills tight end Logan Thomas (82) makes a touchdown catch over Bucs defensive back T.J. Ward (43) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Jim McElwain: Florida Gators have received death threats after 3-3 start


    GAINESVILLE - The Florida Gators' 3-3 start is causing some fans to become irrational - even by college football standards.

    UF coach Jim McElwain said there have been death threats made against people related to his program.
  5. Megyn Kelly hits back at O'Reilly's claim no one complained


    Bill O'Reilly, forced out at Fox News over allegations of sexual harassment, has said no one ever filed a complaint about his behavior with human resources or the legal department in the 20 years he was at the network.

    Bill O'Reilly at the Newseum in Washington D.C., on October 6, 2016.