Utilities audit shows some Orange County customers not paying fair share for wastewater services
Utilities audit shows some Orange County customers not paying fair share for wastewater servicesORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An Orange County Utilities audit found that hundreds of customers might not be paying their fair share. Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said better testing could help save taxpayers money. That’s the objective of this audit of the Orange County Utilities’ environmental surcharge program, which monitors the sewage discharge of commercial and industrial facilities. How bad is it?’”Read: Orange County Clerk of Courts has almost 12K unclaimed checks; is one of them yours? Orange County is currently collecting roughly $2 million a year through the surcharge program.wftv.com
Airline lobbyists ask White House to drop COVID-19 testing requirement
ORLANDO, Fla. — Lobbyists for the airline industry have asked the Biden administration to stop requiring negative COVID-19 tests on all U.S.-bound flights, saying the requirement is outdated and ineffective. In a letter published by Airlines for America, the coalition of groups said international passengers were being scared away from flying out of fears they’ll be stuck far from home. In 2019, more than 3.5 million passengers traveled to or from the U.S. through Orlando International Airport and Sanford International Airport. READ: COVID-19 case declining, omicron’s grip loosening in Orange County, officials say“Hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come,” he added. Boosting international flights, along with a proposed tax break by lobbyists for business travel to conventions and trade shows, would potentially help Central Florida rake in new record levels of income.wftv.com
Happening at 4:30 p.m.: Orange County mayor to give update on COVID-19
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings will give an update on COVID-19 on Wednesday afternoon. The mayor is planning to speak at 4:30 p.m. at the Orange County Administration Center. According to a news release, the mayor will give an update about the omicron variant as well as COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. READ: Here’s how you can apply for rental assistance in OrlandoThe mayor will be joined by Orange County Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins and Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond. Diamond will present the latest on the Tourist Development Tax collections and deliver the report for December 2021, the mayor’s office said.wftv.com
International travelers must show negative COVID-19 test 24-hours before coming to the U.S.
ORLANDO, Fla. — New requirements go into effect Monday that will impact travelers coming to Central Florida from around the world. International travelers who visit Orlando International Airport, or any airport in the country, must now show a negative COVID-19 test 24-hours before coming to the United States. The impact of the new travel requirement from President Joe Biden will soon be seen across Central Florida. READ: Omicron concerns drive Central Florida residents to get COVID-19 vaccine boosters“When COVID goes up, tourist taxes go down, and when COVID goes down tourist taxes go up,” said Phil Diamond, Orange County comptroller. Ron DeSantis said he plans to keep Florida open to travelers.wftv.com
Tourism tax dollars on the rise, but new variant, travel rules could impact progress
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Central Florida tourism leaders are waiting to see how the new COVID-19 omicron variant and President Joe Biden’s new travel rules will impact the local economy. Orange County leaders say tourist development tax collections have steadily increased, but the new variant could impact that progress. October’s numbers for tourism tax dollars are still way behind pre-pandemic levels, even after hitting an encouraging $21 million. “When COVID goes up, tourist taxes go down and when COVID goes down, tourist taxes go up,” Diamond said. Diamond said it’s now another wait-and-see situation on how the latest travel restrictions will impact the numbers again.wftv.com
Orange County Comptroller selling 3 fire trucks through public online auction
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — An online auction for three used Orange County fire trucks is now live. Our on-line auction opens today at 9 a.m.! This is a smaller auction and will only include three fire trucks. The... Posted by Orange County Comptroller - Phil Diamond, CPA on Wednesday, October 27, 2021However, the listings warn that the multiple batteries that run the units are completely dead, and they may not start at pickup. READ: ‘Oh, bother’: Winter Springs family searches for Eeyore, their runaway 40-pound tortoiseThe trucks are being housed at Orange County Fire Rescue Station 71 on Saint Florian Way in Orlando.wftv.com
Audit shows dozens of Orange County bridges, walkways weren’t inspected for years
Kirkman Road pedestrian bridge A pedestrian bridge over Kirkman Road still has some final checklist work to complete before it opens. (WFTV.com News Staff)ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — A newly-released audit shows dozens of Orange County bridges and walkways weren’t inspected for years. The audit found that bridges were not being inspected, and when issues were found, they were not prioritized. The audit found that pedestrian bridges were getting looked at by county staff for things like faulty boards or cracks, but not inspected to see if they were structurally sound. The audit shows that even when inspections were done by the Florida Department of Transportation on three bridges, the county had not tracked if they were repaired.wftv.com
Happening at 3:30 p.m.: Orange County mayor to provide COVID-19 update
Jerry Demings Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is asking all residents to wear face masks when in crowded, indoor spaces as coronavirus case numbers continue to rise in the community. (WFTV.com News Staff)ORANGE COUNTY, FLA. — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings is set to provide an update on COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites within the community on Thursday. The update is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.Health officer Dr. Raul Pino and Comptroller Phil Diamond are also both scheduled to be in attendance at the news conference. READ: Biden to announce new COVID-19 vaccine mandate for federal workersClick here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.wftv.com
Orange County tourism tax dollar collections take slight dip in April compared to March
While the total number of monthly tax collections from hotel and resort stays in Orange County are higher than they were this time last year, the total number of tourism tax dollars collected in April was slightly lower than the number collected in March, according to the latest report from the Orange County Comptroller’s Office.
How long will it take for Orlando theme parks to return to pre-pandemic strength?
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County tourism officials announced January 2021 was one of the hardest-hit months in tourism, but officials maintain a cautious outlook. Senior Director of Market Research at Visit Orlando Daryl Cronk said it was an anticipated dip. Orange County hopes to return to pre-pandemic strength. Ad“All of that is going to happen, but it’s going to come slowly, it’s going to take us 18 months to two years,” Professor Dickson said. Travel experts said they don’t expect a return to pre-pandemic levels before 2023.
Orange County tourism taxes decline for first time since initial pandemic fallout
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – For the first time since Orange County’s tourism development tax collection hit rock bottom during the pandemic, Comptroller Phil Diamond said January’s numbers did not increase like the previous months but instead took a downturn. Speaking from the Orange County Convention Center on Monday, Diamond announced the latest tourism development tax, or TDT, dollar intake for January, which is collected from hotel, resort and motel stays. This is the lowest amount the county had collected in tourism tax dollars in any December since 2005, according to the TDT report. “That shows that the business community has confidence and optimism about Orange County, to long term economic outlook,” Diamond said. The funds go toward tourism projects within the county, including the convention center and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Audit finds missteps in Orange County Clerk of Courts handling of guardianship cases
The Department of Elder Affairs oversees the program and includes more than 550 professional guardians statewide. Our office just released the Audit of the Orange County Clerk of Court’s Administration of the Guardianship Program report. The hourly rate the guardian was paid was more than twice the approved Orange County rate. “One professional guardian still had five active cases when they were suspended and a replacement was not timely appointed. As for the audit, Orange County Clerk Tiffany Moore Russell said she disagrees with four of the findings and recommendations, partially concurs with seven and concurs with two.
Orange County tourism taxes down 59% in December compared to 2019
On Monday, Comptroller Phil Diamond shared December’s intake was more than $10.5 million, a 59% drop from December 2019. Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond announced today that TDT collections received by Orange County for the December 2020 TDT collection month were $10,592,000. On the same day December’s collections report was released, Orange County reported 418 new COVID-19 cases. More than 106,000 cases have been confirmed in Orange County since the pandemic began last year. According to Monday’s daily vaccine report from the Florida Department of Health, 2,016,291 people have been vaccinated statewide, including more than 97,000 in Orange County.
Super Bowl won’t be tourism touchdown for Central Florida
In the past when Tampa hosted Super Bowls, travel experts say thousands of people flocked to Central Florida to extend their vacation, visiting theme parks and resorts. With COVID, I would suspect we’ll only see hundreds of guests that would be here in Central Florida for the Super Bowl,” said President and CEO of Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association Rich Maladecki. Maladecki said COVID has really changed the game plan for the Super Bowl. The county is dipping into its reserves to fully cover expenses like upkeep for the Orange County Convention Center and contracts with Visit Orlando. You can watch the Super Bowl on News 6 on Sunday, February 7th.
Orange County to reopen online signups for COVID-19 vaccine
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County is reopening online signups for the coronavirus vaccine at 8 a.m. on Thursday. [TRENDING: How to get vaccine in Fla. | Publix to offer vaccine | Man sends dead rat to ex-wife | Dr. Dre suffers brain aneurysm]More than 25,000 people have received a COVID-19 vaccine in Orange County. [RELATED: Here’s how to register for the COVID-19 vaccine in Florida]This means about 1.7% of Orange County has been vaccinated. The Orange County mayor reminded everyone the signup is for people 65 and older. Orange County leaders said despite the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, they want residents to keep wearing masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands.
Orange County tourism tax dollars down 66% in November but slow rebound continues
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County tax collections from hotel and resort stays continued to be at historic lows through the end of 2020 due to the pandemic as COVID-19 infections are on the rise country wide, according to an update from the County Comptroller’s office. Tourism Development Taxes, or TDT dollars, are released a month after the completed tax period. The county has continued to see a month over month improvement in TDT collections since the initial fallout in April when the lockdown began. In October, collections were down 69% compared to the same time last year with $7.7 million in TDT dollars. So far the county has used $93.5 million in reserves since April.
Orange County reports increase in tourism taxes for 6th straight month
All rights reserved)ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – More than $7.7 million was collected in October from the tourist development tax, according to the Orange County comptroller. Orange County officials said $7,701,500 was collected in October from the tourist development tax, according to the county comptroller. County officials said there is a light at the end of the tunnel as the Food and Drug Administration could approve multiple vaccines in the upcoming weeks. Since April, county officials said $88 million has been used from reserves as the county attempts to meet funding obligations. In November, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said they may not see a significant improvement in the TDT numbers until late first quarter or second quarter of 2021.
Visit Orlando hopes to see more travelers as holidays approach
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Visit Orlando touted two campaigns it’s pushing ahead of the holiday season during an Orange County Tourist Development Council meeting Friday morning. The Orange County Convention Center also gave a presentation in which leaders discussed the current state of tourism. But officials highlighted bright spots and talked about some convention center events that have already kicked off, such as Winterfest. Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said the convention center is vital to the economy. During the first quarter of the new fiscal year, the Orange County Convention Center said they will play host to 18 events, with 65,000 expected attendees and $42.5 million in economic impact.
Added Orlando flights bring hope for tourism industry
ORLANDO, Fla. – As the tourism industry continues to face struggles due to the coronavirus pandemic, Orlando International Airport on Tuesday announced an increase in flights for the holiday season. Airport officials said 31 flights were added this month and 36 more are being added for December. Diamond on Monday spoke about the financial impact from decreases in travel, saying tourist revenue in September was down 60% from 2019. While revenue is down from 2019, the $7 million in September tourist taxes was an increase of 22% from August. “I see that as encouraging that perhaps it’s a couple million over the prior month,” Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said.
Orange County tourism tax dollars see Labor Day boost but final phase of reopening brings uncertainty
Tourism development tax dollars collected from hotel stays in Orange County were down 71% in August compared to the same time last year due to coronavirus closures and layoffs, Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond said Monday. The county collected more than $5.7 million in TDT taxes in August, an increase by about 6% from July. TDT dollars are used toward tourism-related projects including the Orange County Convention Center and performing arts centers. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings made the decision to suspend or cancel all contracts tied to the convention center’s expansion earlier in the pandemic. The slow improvement is reflective of lower coronavirus deaths and cases, Diamond said, also noting that there have been no virus outbreaks connected to any area theme parks.
Disney layoffs will be felt beyond gates of theme parks
ORLANDO, Fla. – The economic impact of the layoff of thousands of workers at Disney’s theme parks will be felt by the communities in which they operate, according to economists. A Disney spokesperson told News 6 on Tuesday they could not say how many workers would be impacted in Central Florida or at any of their parks. Diamond said he’s used to focusing on how much money tourists spend in the Orlando area. Dr. Sean Snaith with UCF’s Institute of Economic Forecasting said the layoffs will be felt far beyond the gates of Disney. Diamond said tourists are slowly starting to spend money in the Orlando area again.
Disney gave Orange County tourism tax dollars a boost but theres still a long way to go
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond announced Thursday the countys tourist development tax collection for the month of July was an improvement over the previous months and, as expected, Disneys reopening appears to have made a positive impact. Tourist development taxes or TDT, come from hotel and lodging stays within Orange County. TDT dollars go toward funding county tourism-related projects such as the Orange County Convention Center. Statistics show that Orange County tourism tax numbers were much higher in 2019, the dramatic drop this year is due to the coronavirus. Hopefully driving some tourism back in the market as we close out the year 2020.Read more about the Orange County Tourism Tax updates HERE: (Robert sent out an email late today from the Comptrollers Office.)
Do not make the same mistakes: Orange County residents told to be safe during Labor Day weekend
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. With the long Labor Day weekend about to start, leaders in Orange County are reminding residents to take measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 so the region doesnt experience another spike in cases. Dr. Raul Pino from the Florida Department of Health in Orange County said recently, coronavirus data has been improving and case numbers are dropping week over week. That spike was believed to have started after the Memorial Day weekend, when pictures circulating online showed large groups of people without masks. Pino said being reckless during the upcoming holiday weekend could undo the progress the county has made recently. Please, please do not make the same mistakes we all made on Memorial Day weekend.
Orange Countys economy on a slow, steady rise to recovery
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. Economic forecasters and tourism leaders say Orange Countys economy is on a slow rise to recovery during several presentations given to the Tourist Development Council Friday Morning. We call this pattern the Nike swoosh, said George Aguel, president and CEO of Visit Orlando. Its a steady one.Visit Orlando was one of four presentations to the council on Friday, showing several graphs on how in April the pandemic devastated Orange Countys tourism economy. Hotel occupancy graph presented by Visit Orlando. However, he said July 4th was the best weekend yet in terms of hotel occupancy numbers with 39.7% of the hotels being booked.
Orange County Convention Center expansion on hold after tourism taxes drop off amid virus
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. Plans for another addition to the Orange County Convention Center have been put on hold, according to county Mayor Jerry Demings, due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus. County tourism-related projects like the convention center expansion are funded in part by taxes generated from hotel stays in Orange County, known as tourism development tax, or TDT collections. Beginning in March, organizers began canceling their conferences and events at the Orange County Convention Center. Another casualty of the pandemic will be the planned expansion of the Orange County Convention Center, Demings said. The Orange County Convention Center provides approximately $3 billion in economic impact to Central Florida annually, according to its website.
Orange Countys tourism taxes down 95% in May, a minor improvement form April
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. The latest tourist tax collection numbers are in and while they arent as low as last months, they still dont look good. Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond announced Wednesday during a news conference that the May 2020 TDT collection totaled $1,144,300, which is a 95% decrease from May 2019. TDT refers to the tax collected from hotel, motel and resort stays in Orange County, also known as a hotel bed tax. [PREVIOUS: Orange Countys tourist tax collection drops 97% to new record low amid coronavirus closures]Diamond said Aprils collection was the smallest amount of TDT the county had ever collected in one month. Diamond said the TDT tax typically pays for projects that attract visitors to the region.
Universal Orlando lays off theme park employees
ORLANDO, Fla. Weeks after opening for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic struck Central Florida, Universal Orlando announced that it would need to lay off some of its theme park employees. Most recently, we have made the difficult decision to reduce our Parks & Resorts workforce across multiple locations and business units. Universal Studios Florida, Universals Islands of Adventure and Universals Volcano Bay all closed in mid-March to stop the spread of COVID-19. Already, Universal has had to temporarily halt construction on its fourth Central Florida theme park: Epic Universe. To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6s coronavirus newsletter or go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.
Volusia County hotel bed tax sees nearly 80% drop amid coronavirus closures
VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. Central Floridas tourism economy has suffered mightily due to the coronavirus, causing huge downfalls in tourism tax dollars, otherwise known as tourist development tax collected from hotel and vacation rental stays. The Volusia County Revenue Division reported a nearly 80% drop in tourist development tax, or TDT, dollars in April. Compared to April 2019, which saw $1.1 million in tourist development tax revenue, this April only brought in $239,943. The county began to see the fallout from coronavirus closures in March when the county reported $1,024,406 in TDT dollars, compared to nearly $1.6 million from the same time last year. Similarly in Orange County, Comptroller Phil Diamond reported a record 97% drop in revenue from tourism tax dollars in April.
Orange Countys tourist tax collection drops to record low
ORLANDO, Fla. New numbers from Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond show the county saw a record 97% drop in revenue from tourism tax dollars in April. This is the smallest amount of TDT weve ever collected in one month," Diamond said Wednesday during a news conference. Since 1979, anyone who has stayed at a hotel or vacation rental in Orange County has paid the Tourist Development Tax, or TDT. During the month of March, tax collections were down 56.5% compared to March of 2019, totaling $13,633,000 according to Diamond. Its something that when you see your tourist tax dollars go from $30 to $13 million in one month, you need reserves.
Experts: 2 to 3 years for economic recovery in Central Florida hospitality industry
ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. Orange County was on par for a record year in tourist development tax dollars, according to comptroller Phil Diamond. CEO of the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association, Richard Maladecki, said hotels and its workers aren't in the same boat. "The state of the Central Florida lodging industry is devastating... just devastating," said Maladecki. He encourages locals to help in the recovery of the hospitality industry by taking staycations. Budget talks are expected to begin in July where Orange County commissioners will decide whether or not theyll dip into any of those reserves.