The Florida Senate Finance and Tax Committee has set into motion a bill that would increase local hotel tax from 6 percent to 7 percent, and provide up to $90 million in sales tax subsidy rebates, paid out over 30 years, to help pay for renovations and improvements to the 26 year old home of the Miami Dolphins, Sun Life stadium.
The estimated cost of renovations and improvements to Sun Life stadium is $400 million. The renovations and improvements include, but are not limited to; a canopy roof, 4 high-definition video screens, new seating, and upgrades to the lighting and sound system.
Stephen Ross, majority owner of the Miami Dolphins, has said ownership will put up a little over $200 million of the overall cost.
Mike Dee, President and CEO of the Miami Dolphins, has indicated the renovations and improvements would go a long way to landing future Super Bowls, college football BCS title games, and international soccer tournaments, along with hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity to Miami-Dade county.
Senator Oscar Braynon (D) who represents Miami Gardens where the stadium is located, has said, “This is going to be a great economic boon to my community and to the state of Florida.”
The action of the Senate Finance and Tax Committee is in direct contrast to the support, or lack thereof, for the bill by the public. Opposition to the bill crosses racial, ethnic, political party, and geographic lines. Dario Moreno, a pollster and Florida International University political scientist said, “If it makes the ballot, the plan will be killed by Miami-Dade voters. This is toxic to the legislature and county commission. There is no one group of likely voters who supports this idea. Even in County Commission District 1, where the stadium is, people are overwhelmingly opposed.” Moreno’s survey revealed approximately 73 percent of those polled opposed or strongly opposed the proposed bill.
Carlos Gimenez, Mayor of Miami-Dade County, has indicted he wants an option in the bill that would kill the County’s participation if South Florida is not awarded Super Bowl 50 or 51 to be played in February 2016 and February 2017, respectively.
The proposed bill will have to clear a few hurdles in the Florida House and Senate. If it were able to pass through that process, it would be forwarded to Governor Rick Scott for signature. Governor Scott has said, “The most important thing is I’m responsible to make sure taxpayer money doesn’t get wasted and, so if we can get a return on those dollars, then that’s important to me. I want to do the right thing for the taxpayer.”
Notwithstanding Governor Scott’s concern of protecting the taxpayer, the proposed increase in hotel tax and the tax subsidy rebate would not come from taxes accessed directly to the taxpayers of Miami-Dade County.
As currently proposed, the bill would require a local referendum, therefore, if the bill makes its way to Governor Scott’s desk for signature, the ultimate final say on whether funding can be raised via local hotel taxes will be left up to the voters of Miami-Dade county.
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