Orlando hospitality group calls for new sales tax to improve safety downtown

Proposal asks for a 5% surcharge on sales in Orlando’s entertainment district

ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Hospitality Alliance submitted a proposal to the city Thursday, and it calls for a 5% surcharge on all sales at establishments in Orlando’s downtown entertainment district.

They’re calling it a safety surcharge.

[TRENDING: ‘Terrifying video’ shows robbery of Amazon delivery driver| Bill to penalize left-lane drivers | Death investigation shuts down I-4 in Orlando | Become a News 6 Insider]

Monica McCowan, vice president of Orlando Hospitality Alliance, said, “The first thing we want to use it for is to hire a full-time dedicated force of police officers that are specially trained to work in the downtown entertainment area.”

McCowan said they estimate the surcharge could bring in millions of dollars to be used for safety efforts, telling News 6 that “with a conservative estimate of alcohol sales in the downtown entertainment area at about $60 million per year, we’d be looking at $3 million in revenue to go into safety in downtown Orlando.”

News 6 asked McCowan what she would say to business owners who might be concerned this added tax would dissuade people from coming to bars and restaurants.

“There’s plenty of examples of municipalities around America, and internationally, that have alcohol surcharges... People want to come to downtown Orlando, and they want to be safe,” McCowan said.

News 6 took the proposal to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer to get his reaction, and he said, “So, obviously, we passed on first reading of ordinances, and we invited the downtown stakeholders in to meet with us over the course of the next several weeks. If they have any ideas, I understand, well, I know that our staff had a big meeting yesterday, I don’t know the outcome of that or what the different ideas that have come about.”

McCowan said their next step is to have small group work shops with city staff and the Orlando Police Department to discuss their proposal further.

Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily:

About the Author:

Lauren Cervantes was born and raised in the Midwest but calls Florida her second home. She joined News 6 in August 2019 as a reporter.