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Orange County considers giving $10 million in tourist taxes for Pulse memorial, museum

Money will help parking, building expansion

A visitor places flowers at the Pulse memorial on June 12, 2018, the two year anniversary of the shooting where 49 people were killed. (Photo: Emilee Speck/WKMG)
A visitor places flowers at the Pulse memorial on June 12, 2018, the two year anniversary of the shooting where 49 people were killed. (Photo: Emilee Speck/WKMG)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Pulse memorial and museum is one step closer to receiving $10 million of Orange County tourist tax money to help the onePULSE Foundation buy land for parking and the permanent memorial.

The nonprofit was established after the June 12, 2016, mass shooting where 49 people were killed and more than 50 others were injured at the Orlando nightclub on South Orange Avenue.

The leaders of onePULSE leaders requested $10 million of the county's hotel or tourist tax on Monday to help with the memorial and museum project. An Orange County advisory committee unanimously approved the request, according to the Orlando Sentinel. 

The $10 million will come from the countywide Tourist Development Tax, or TDT, a 6 percent tax on hotels, motels and short-term rentals. In May alone, the county took in more than $21 million in tourist development taxes, Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said. Last year, the county collected $255 million in tourism taxes.

However, Orange County government public information officer Doreen Overstreet said there are several more rounds of approvals needed before the nonprofit is granted its request.

The committee's recommendation will be reviewed by the Tourist Development Council advisory board Friday. The Tourist Development Council advises on spending of the tax money and offers its recommendation to the mayor and board of commissioners who can then approve the spending.

If the council recommends the funds be approved, then it will go before the Orange County Board of Commissioners for final approval, which could happen sometime in October, Overstreet said.

In the past, the county has used the tax money to fund tourism-related projects, including the Orange County Convention Center, the Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Arts and other venues.

According to the presentation given to the advisory committee by onePULSE leaders, the money will be used to purchase land around the now temporary memorial along Kaley Street, for parking and to expand the memorial.

Lots the onePULSE Foundation is considering for purchase around the memorial site.
Lots the onePULSE Foundation is considering for purchase around the memorial site.

Citing the number of visitors to other memorials, including the Oklahoma City Museum and Memorial which sees 7.5 million visitors a year, onePULSE told the advisory committee it expects at least 300,000 visitors a year to the Pulse memorial. The interim memorial has already received 35,000 in the four months since it opened.

The nonprofit estimates the memorial will be open in 2020. The organization doesn't have a total cost estimate for the memorial, according to its website.

The memorial and museum will be funded by a "variety of fund development efforts ranging from individual donations, corporate and foundation support, to public funding and event partnerships," according to onePULSE.


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