During the height of summer, Destin's population can grow to almost 70,000 a day, but the city receives state tax revenues based on the number of permanent residents which is just under 12,000. Now, the Destin City Council plans to level the playing field.
Want to know how bad traffic is in Destin? Just ask those who work off of Highway 98.
“Traffic is bad on Highway 98. This time of year it’s usually dead or used to be in the old days dead, and it’s almost as busy as summer and this is 21st of January."
Traffic is just one of the problems Destin officials hope to address with a new municipal resort tax.
Take Commons Drive for instance, the only major east-west connector in Destin without sidewalks. City officials say the new tax could help change all that.
The up to two percent tax on hotel, motel and other short-term stays could generate around $2.6 million a year. It’s money that could fix failing infrastructure and help accommodate thousands of tourists, but would the extra bucks keep those same tourists away?
“They support it because they know if the tourists can't move, if they can’t drive from Lucky Snapper to Fisherman's Wharf and down here to Destin Commons, they're not going to come back, and I think everybody agrees an extra couple of dollars a night isn't going to change anybody's lifestyle having an extra road, having an extra bike lane, having a pier, having a lifeguard might change their life and certainly their experience here.”
Destin City Council members plan to hold a straw ballot on March 8. If approved, you could see the fruits of the tax in late October.