Naples supports raising tourist tax on hotel stays, short-term rentals

Jacqueline, left, and Vivian Braceland, right,  keep their distance from the influx of Jellyfish along Naples Beach by playing on the shallow end of the shore on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 in Naples, Fla.

Photo by DANIA MAXWELL // Buy this photo

Jacqueline, left, and Vivian Braceland, right, keep their distance from the influx of Jellyfish along Naples Beach by playing on the shallow end of the shore on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 in Naples, Fla.

Should Collier County increase its bed tax from 4 percent to 5 percent?

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Naples City Council reached a narrow consensus Wednesday morning to support raising the county tourist tax on hotel stays and short-term rentals to 5 percent from 4 percent.

A tax increase would require a supermajority vote of four of five Collier County commissioners.

Naples Mayor John Sorey and council members Bill Barnett, Doug Finlay and Sam Saad backed the idea, with the caveat that tourist tax revenue set aside for beach renourishment be increased to $4 million each year.

Council members Gary Price, Dee Sulick and Teresa Heitmann disagreed, saying they wanted to look more closely first at reallocating how the current tax is spent among beaches, museums and tourism promotion.

The Collier Community Alliance, a countywide civic group, recommended the tax increase, which would raise between $3.5 million to $4 million and provide more money for beaches and marketing.

Hoteliers oppose the move. They say the lower tax gives Collier County a competitive advantage in attracting convention business from other Florida counties with a higher tourist tax rate.

Alliance Chairman Murray Hendel said he would ask the group to decide whether to take the proposal to the Tourist Development Council and then to the Collier County Commission.

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