by Gabriela Mendez
Starting on Aug. 1, 2020, Hillsborough County will increase the tax on overnight stays at local hotels from 5% to 6% due to the increase of tourism Tampa has faced these past few years.
The Hillsborough County in 2018 generated $644 million in taxable hotel revenue and last year generated nearly $673 million meeting the revenues necessary to be eligible to increase taxes collected on hotel rooms by 1%.
The executive director of the Hillsborough County Hotel & Motel Association, Bob Morrison, urged commissioners of the Hillsborough County to support the proposed increase with at least one condition.
“Our board unanimously supports such an increase, with at least one condition – a minimum of 33% of every dollar collected should be designated for destination marketing,” Morrison said. “This condition is designed to grow the number of visitors who contribute to our community’s well-being, building a recession-proof firewall for the tough times while never asking our citizens to ever contribute a dime toward that fire wall, unless they stay in a hotel room.”
This increase in hotel tax is expected to collect an increase of $6.4 million revenues annually which many find will benefit Tampa residents.
Robert Beekman, the chair and professor of the economic department at The University of Tampa UT, stated that “the hotel tax will be a good thing because it will get some of the tax burden on the visitors instead of the Tampa residents.”
The tax will also start funding for the tourism marketing programs, sports stadiums, convention centers and other sites that draw tourists to Hillsborough County. This is due to the fact that ‘Visit Florida’, Florida’s official tourism bureau will be facing budget cuts starting Oct. 1, 2020.
Not only will this tax increase affect hotel pricing but also property value in Tampa where it has already had a rapid and massive incline in pricing that leave many future homeowners in the Hillsborough County worried.
Where the Tampa Bay Times reported that according to Florida Realtors the Tampa Bay housing market outpaced the national market for year-over-year growth.
“A little to more than 900 people are moving to Florida and I read in a Bloomberg analysis that around 150 people are moving to Tampa which is causing this rapid increase in housing prices because the demand curve is shifting upward everyday in people wanting to move to Tampa,” said Beekman.
In Tampa, single-family home sales rose 14% in comparison to Pinellas County which rose 24%, Hernando which rose nearly 22%, Hillsborough which rose 12%, and Pasco that only rose 3%.
This has also been affecting the UT community. Several students who are planning to stay in Tampa after graduation are worried about finding reasonably priced housing.
“Finding housing at a reasonable price will become more and more difficult,” said Sidney Schlee, sophomore cybersecurity major. “Already, on-campus housing is unobtainable for juniors and seniors which is ridiculous that UT can’t accommodate students. There aren’t any campus sponsored apartments off campus, leaving students to find housing completely by themselves. It’s unfair, especially for students without cars or for international students. There should be some sort of program or sponsored apartment for students.”
Yet, with this increase of pricing values in housing there has been good news with it. In that many companies are coming to the Tampa area seeing as many students are now highly considering staying here in hopes of finding these companies that are coming here and finding reasonable jobs straight out of UT.
“Another part of the good news is that companies are relocating to Tampa at a rapid pace. But, it’s a bit of chicken and egg,” said Beekman. “Where companies don’t want to relocate unless there are younger skilled workers and younger skilled workers don’t want to stick around unless there’s a place for them to work. But we’ve hit a point after a good bit of development for the last few years that now we have a number of students that want to stick around or relocate to Tampa and the companies are coming here to suck up that talent which is gear and get all the tax advantages too.”
Many find that even UT should offer a sort of way of helping students find housing at reasonable prices for students with starting salaries straight out of university.
“UT should offer fairs with potential apartment complexes and have a list of affordable places to live off campus once someone graduates and has to pay with a starting salary that’s like $8 an hour,” said Schlee.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that more than 1,248 homes were sold in January with a price range of $257,726 and an increase of 7.4% in comparison to a year ago. In addition, 365 townhomes and condos had an increase of more than 7% with a price range of $177,910.
Some students at UT have resorted to finding housing further away in hopes of finding a more reasonable housing price range.
“I have found that I have to [move] further away from campus towards the USF area to find reasonable housing,” said Briana Cole, sophomore advertising and public relations major.
“Depend on what your major or your starting salary,” said Beekman. “But a lot of recent graduates that I know are looking at these infilled neighborhoods such as the North of Kennedy where nobody would have thought of moving in there but there are a lot of people doing so.”
The median sales price in January 2019 was an estimate of $266,300 with a 6.8% and Florida median home sales price was $265,000 with an increase of 6%. Yet, it’s anticipated that if tourism increases in the Tampa Bay area the pricing may increase as well.
“Tampa is an attractive place with the building and all the hips stuff, I’m telling you 10 years ago our graduates weren’t so fired up in staying in the area so you gotta pay for the cool stuff,” said Beekman.
Gabriela Mendez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org