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NOVEMBER 9, 2006
TOURIST DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL


ITEM -- ITEM 4 ON YOUR AGENDA IS AN ISSUE THAT THE COUNTY
ATTORNEY'S OFFICE IS BRINGING TO US, AND I'D ASK THE COUNTY
ATTORNEY, RENEE LEE, TO COME FORWARD AND INTRODUCE THIS
ITEM.
>>RENEE LEE: THANK YOU.
>>JIM NORMAN: MS. LEE.
>>RENEE LEE: GOOD AFTERNOON, MEMBERS.
I'M RENEE LEE, COUNTY ATTORNEY, AND THANK YOU FOR ALLOWING
ME THIS TIME ON YOUR AGENDA THIS MORNING -- OR THIS
AFTERNOON.
I'M HERE WITH CHIP RICE AND RONALD BUSH FROM THE LAW FIRM
OF BUSH GRAZIANO & RICE, ALONG WITH SANDY WEINBERG.
AND WE'RE HERE TO TALK TO YOU THIS AFTERNOON ABOUT SOME
EMERGING ISSUES REGARDING THE HOTEL.COM LITIGATION.
ONE OF THE REASONS THAT WE ARE HERE IS THAT THIS KIND OF
LITIGATION IS NOT ONLY POPPING UP AROUND THE STATE BUT
AROUND THE ENTIRE COUNTRY, AND WE ARE -- WE KNOW THAT YOU
HAVE A VESTED INTEREST IN THIS ISSUE AS HOTEL
REPRESENTATIVES AND MEMBERS OF THE TOURIST DEVELOPMENT
COUNCIL.
OUR PURPOSE HERE TODAY IS TO GIVE YOU MORE INFORMATION
ABOUT THIS TYPE OF LITIGATION AS WELL AS TO GET YOUR
RECOMMENDATION TO THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AS TO
WHETHER WE SHOULD PURSUE THIS LITIGATION AT ALL.
WE CERTAINLY DO NOT WANT ANY ADVERSE EFFECT TO YOUR
INDUSTRY, AND WE'RE HERE TO CHECK IN WITH YOU TO MAKE SURE
THAT THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN.
AS PART OF THIS PRESENTATION, YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN A FIRM
BROCHURE AS WELL AS SOME BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE
LITIGATION THAT'S CROPPING UP THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY.
I'D LIKE TO ASK RON BUSH TO COME FORWARD.
HE HAS A SHORT PRESENTATION TO PRESENT TO YOU, AND AFTER
HE'S FINISHED, WE'LL BE HAPPY TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS.
>>JIM NORMAN: OKAY.
>>RENEE LEE: THANK YOU.
>>JIM NORMAN: YES, SIR.
WELCOME.
>> GOOD AFTERNOON, FOLKS.
I'M RON BUSH.
THIS IS MY PARTNER, CHIP RICE, AND SANDY WEINBERG.
WE REALLY APPRECIATE THE TIME THIS AFTERNOON TO SPEAK WITH
YOU AND, HOPEFULLY, TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT WHAT WE BELIEVE IS
A VERY POWERFUL AND EXCITING OPPORTUNITY TO INCREASE COUNTY
TAX REVENUES.
THERE HAS BEEN LITIGATION POPPING UP ALL ACROSS THE
COUNTRY, MANY, MANY LAWSUITS FILED AGAINST THE EXPEDIAS,
HOTELS.COM, AND OTHER INTERNET COMPANIES, BASICALLY
ALLEGING THAT THESE COMPANIES ARE NOT PAYING THE
APPROPRIATE TAXES, IN THIS INSTANCE, NOT PAYING THE
APPROPRIATE TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAX.
ESSENTIALLY, WHAT IT BOILS DOWN TO IS FLORIDA STATUTES
SECTION 125.0104(3) SETS UP THE TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAX.
SUBSECTION "F" SAYS, "THE TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAX SHALL BE
CHARGED BY THE PERSON RECEIVING THE CONSIDERATION FOR THE
LEASE OR RENTAL, AND IT SHALL BE COLLECTED FROM THE LESSEE,
TENANT, OR CUSTOMER AT THE TIME OF PAYMENT OF THE
CONSIDERATION FOR SUCH LEASE OR RENTAL."
WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT, IN FACT, IS WHAT'S HAPPENING, AND
WE'LL LOOK IN A MOMENT AT AN EXCERPT FROM THE EXPEDIA 10-K
THAT SUBSTANTIATES OUR BELIEF, WHERE EXPEDIA BASICALLY SAYS
IN THEIR 10-K THEY DO NOT PAY OCCUPANCY TAX.
WE BELIEVE, BASED UPON OUR REVIEW OF THE LITIGATION POPPING
UP AROUND THE COUNTRY, THAT IN FACT, WHAT IS HAPPENING IS
SOMETHING ALONG THESE LINES: EXPEDIA GETS A BLOCK OF
ROOMS -- LET'S JUST PICK A NUMBER, $60 -- FOR $60.
THE TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAX, THAT 5%, IS THEN REMITTED ON
THE $60.
THAT ROOM IS ACTUALLY THEN LET TO THE CONSUMER, THE PERSON
WHO IS GOING TO OCCUPY THE ROOM, FOR AN AMOUNT OF MONEY IN
EXCESS OF $60 -- LET'S PICK A NUMBER -- $100.
TAX IS NOT PAID, 5% IS NOT PAID, ON THE $100.
AND WE WOULD SUBMIT THAT TAX, IN ESSENCE, SHOULD BE PAID ON
THE WHOLE $100 THAT IS COLLECTED FROM THE -- FROM THE
PERSON WHO ACTUALLY OCCUPIES THE ROOM.
THIS IS A PUBLICATION FROM DIANNE NELSON, THE PINELLAS
COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR, AND IT BASICALLY SAYS THAT THE
TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAX AT 5% IS IN ADDITION TO THE TOTAL
RENTAL AMOUNT RECEIVED FROM ANY PERSON WHO RENTS, LEASES,
OR LETS FOR CONSIDERATION THAT HOTEL ROOM.
IT GOES ON TO SAY ANY SEPARATELY STATED MANDATORY CHARGE TO
THE GUESTS THAT ARE CONSIDERED PART OF THE TOTAL
CONSIDERATION TO RENT IS TAXABLE, SEPARATE CHARGES
INCLUDING THINGS LIKE ADMINISTRATIVE FEES, PROCESSING FEES.
THAT'S ALL INCLUDED IN THE ACTUAL COST OF THE ROOM, AND
THAT IS THE DOLLAR AMOUNT ON WHICH THE 5% SHOULD BE
CALCULATED, NOT, IN OUR HYPOTHETICAL EXAMPLE, THE $60.
SO WE BELIEVE THAT, IN ESSENCE, 5% SHOULD BE REMITTED TO
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY BASED UPON THAT $100 FIGURE AND NOT THE
SMALLER FIGURE, AND THAT IS, IN FACT, NOT WHAT IS
HAPPENING, AND THAT'S THE GRAVAMEN OF THE LITIGATION
POPPING UP AROUND THE COUNTRY.
WE DO NOT KNOW AS WE STAND HERE WHAT THE EXACT MAGNITUDE OF
WHAT I'M GOING TO CALL A SHORTFALL IN THAT PAYMENT.
WE DON'T KNOW THAT EXACT MAGNITUDE.
WHAT WE DO KNOW, THOUGH, IS THAT IN 2005, HILLSBOROUGH
COUNTY RECORDED A RECORD-BREAKING YEAR FOR BED TAX, TOURIST
DEVELOPMENT TAX COLLECTIONS, OF NEARLY $20 MILLION.
SO WHATEVER PERCENTAGE OF THAT $20 MILLION IS ATTRIBUTABLE
TO THE HOTEL.COMs AND THE EXPEDIAS OF THE WORLD, THERE MAY
WELL BE A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TAX REVENUE THAT IS NOT
BEING REMITTED THAT SHOULD BE REMITTED.
WE ANTICIPATE THAT THERE MAY BE SOME QUESTION, WELL, HOW
WILL THIS AFFECT YOUR INDUSTRY IF HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY
SHOULD BECOME INVOLVED IN LITIGATION OF THIS TYPE?
WE DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THERE WOULD BE AN ADVERSE IMPACT ON
YOUR INDUSTRY.
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY WOULD NOT BE STEPPING OUT ON A LIMB,
WOULD NOT BE BLAZING NEW GROUND, BECAUSE AS I INDICATED,
THIS LITIGATION IS POPPING UP AROUND THE COUNTRY.
WE -- WE PROVIDED TO YOU SOME COPIES OF -- OF LAWSUITS THAT
HAVE ALREADY BEEN FILED, AND I THINK WE GAVE YOU LAWSUITS
FILED IN ORANGE COUNTY; SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS; THE CITY OF
JACKSONVILLE IN DUVAL COUNTY; AS WELL AS LEON COUNTY.
THE 10-K FROM EXPEDIA IDENTIFIES MANY, MANY, MANY MORE
LAWSUITS THAT HAVE POPPED UP AROUND THE COUNTRY MAKING
SIMILAR ALLEGATIONS.
THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE -- THE ACTUAL 10-K, WHEREIN
EXPEDIA STATES, WE DO NOT COLLECT OR REMIT OCCUPANCY TAXES.
SOME JURISDICTIONS HAVE QUESTIONED OUR PRACTICE IN THIS
REGARD.
THERE'S THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT THAT THE TAXES ARE NEITHER BEING
COLLECTED NOR REMITTED BY THE COMPANY THAT WE WOULD CONTEND
ACTUALLY RENTS THE ROOM TO THE END USER AT A HIGHER PRICE
THAN THEY OBTAIN THE RIGHT TO RENT THAT ROOM FOR.
YET IN THE 10-K, EXPEDIA STATES, "WE HAVE ESTABLISHED A
RESERVE WITH RESPECT TO POTENTIAL OCCUPANCY TAX LIABILITY
FOR PRIOR AND CURRENT PERIODS."
I'M NOT AN ECONOMIST, I'VE NEVER DRAFTED A 10-K, BUT I
DON'T THINK THAT COMPANIES LIKE EXPEDIA TAKE LIGHTLY
PUTTING STATEMENTS IN THEIR 10-K ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THEY
HAVEN'T PAID A TAX AND THEY HAVE SET UP RESERVES FOR THOSE
TYPES OF POTENTIAL LIABILITIES.
SO WE ARE HERE BRINGING YOU UP-TO-DATE ON THE LITIGATION
AROUND THE COUNTRY, ASKING FOR YOUR ENDORSEMENT TO BE
RETAINED TO REPRESENT HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY IN SIMILAR
LITIGATION, AND WE WOULD PROPOSE PROVIDING SUCH
REPRESENTATION ON A CONTINGENT FEE BASIS.
WE WOULD ASK TO BE RETAINED, ALLOW US TO MEET WITH THE
COUNTY TAX COLLECTOR AND THE OTHER FOLKS TO DO SOME DUE
DILIGENCE, TO GET A HANDLE ON, REALLY, WHAT THE MAGNITUDE
OF THIS LITIGATION WOULD BE, AND THEN FINALIZE ANY SUCH
AGREEMENT.
WE'D BE HAPPY TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS THAT ANY OF YOU MIGHT
HAVE.
>>JIM NORMAN: MS. LEE, DO YOU NEED TO ADD ANYTHING ELSE?
>>RENEE LEE: MEMBERS, THIS IS OUR FIRST STOP.
WE HAVE NOT PRESENTED THIS ITEM TO THE BOARD OF COUNTY
COMMISSIONERS BECAUSE WE WANTED YOU TO TAKE A LOOK AT IT
FIRST TO DETERMINE WHETHER THERE IS ANY IMPACT OR ANY
ADVERSE IMPACT TO YOUR ORGANIZATIONS.
WE WOULD APPRECIATE A RECOMMENDATION OR COMMENTS TO THE
BOARD REGARDING YOUR -- YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THIS.
THANK YOU.
>>JIM NORMAN: YES, MA'AM.
>>MARY SCOTT: AM I ON?
THERE WE GO.
>>JIM NORMAN: YOU'RE ON.
>>MARY SCOTT: I GUESS AS I'VE READ THIS -- AND I CAN ONLY
SPEAK FOR MARRIOTT -- I THINK OUR COMPANY WOULD SAY THIS IS
MORE OF A NATIONAL ISSUE, MAYBE A FEDERAL ISSUE, AS OPPOSED
TO A COUNTY ISSUE, AND I WOULD THINK -- YOU KNOW, I -- I
AGREE IN PRINCIPLE, IT LOOKS AS THOUGH THEY SHOULD BE
PAYING THAT HIGHER TAX RATE TO THE COUNTIES IN WHICH THEY
ARE BUYING AND RESELLING THESE HOTEL ROOMS, BUT I DON'T
KNOW THAT WE, AS JUST ONE COUNTY -- IF IT WOULD BENEFIT US
IN ANY WAY TO JUMP ON THE BANDWAGON WHEN SOMEBODY AT THE
FEDERAL LEVEL'S GOING TO HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS.
>> THE -- THE PRINCIPAL ISSUE IS THE -- THE RIGHT TO
COLLECT THE TAX, AND THE TAX IS IMPOSED -- THE TAX IS
AUTHORIZED BY STATE STATUTE.
EACH COUNTY IS AUTHORIZED BY SECTION 125 TO IMPOSE THIS
TOURIST DEVELOPMENT TAX.
COUNTIES CAN SAY, WE DON'T WANT TO, COUNTIES CAN SAY, WE DO
WANT TO, AND YOU ARE THEN AUTHORIZED TO IMPOSE AND COLLECT
THE TAX FOR ANY AMOUNT CURRENTLY UP TO 5%.
SO THE REASON THAT IT IS A COUNTY ISSUE AND NOT A FEDERAL
ISSUE OR, IN OUR OPINION, AT THIS JUNCTURE, EVEN A STATE
ISSUE, IS BECAUSE IT TRICKLES DOWN TO THE SPECIFIC COUNTY
LEVEL.
QUESTION NUMBER ONE, DO YOU HAVE SUCH AN ORDINANCE OR TAX;
QUESTION NUMBER TWO, WHAT IS THE PERCENTAGE THAT MAY BE
DIFFERENT; THEN ISSUE NUMBER THREE, THE PERSON WHO IS
AUTHORIZED AND REQUIRED BY LAW TO COLLECT AND IMPOSE THOSE
TAXES.
>>JIM NORMAN: AND MARY, LET ME -- A COUPLE QUESTIONS
AROUND THAT, THOUGH.
IF WE'RE AT THE TABLE, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT -- I DID NOT
WANT OUR LOCAL HOTEL INDUSTRY LOCALLY TO BE HARMED.
IF WE ARE AT THE TABLE AND HAVE A VOICE, IF WE'RE NOT TYING
ONTO SOMETHING AND LETTING SOMEBODY ELSE DICTATE -- IF OUR
COUNTY IS AT -- FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE AGGRESSIVE
ATTACK OF WHO YOU GO AFTER AND ALSO ON THE SETTLEMENT END,
THAT -- HOW MANY YEARS BACK THAT YOU COULD SETTLE,
POTENTIALLY BACK FIVE YEARS, AND WHAT OUR SETTLEMENT
DOLLARS WOULD BE, AND WE WOULD HAVE A VOICE AT THE TABLE
FOR ALSO THE SETTLEMENT ISSUES.
IF NOT, SOMEBODY ELSE WOULD BE DICTATING WHAT THOSE
SETTLEMENTS WOULD BE.
YES, SIR.
>>JOE COLLIER: OF COURSE, IT SCARES ME THAT I KNOW NOW
THAT LAWYERS ARE OUT READING THOSE 10-Ks AND LOOKING FOR
FUNDS THAT ARE BURIED IN THERE TO LANCE THEM.
CHILLS.
THE QUESTION I WOULD HAVE IS, FROM A -- JUST OFF -- IN
READING THIS, THE OTHER GROUPS THAT WE HAVE AND OTHER
BUSINESS THAT WE DO WITH GROUPS THAT DO UPCHARGING, THEY
CHARGE -- YOU KNOW, THEY PAY US A RATE AND THEN THEY
ENHANCE THE PACKAGE VIA TRANSPORTATION, THEY PROVIDE
TICKETS, THEY PROVIDE STUFF, AND THEN THEY MAKE A PROFIT,
WE DO A LOT OF BUSINESS WITH SPORTS GROUPS, WITH YOUTH
GROUPS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE INTERNET PROVIDERS,
AND THEY ALL UPCHARGE.
THAT'S THE WAY THEY'VE SURVIVED.
SO I DON'T KNOW HOW YOU WOULD ENFORCE ONLY AGAINST THE
INTERNET COMPANIES AND THEN NOT SOMEHOW GO AGAINST AND
ENFORCING THESE OTHER GUYS.
I'M NOT SURE HOW YOU GO ABOUT DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN THE
TWO, AND ONCE YOU OPEN THAT UP, THAT COULD CAUSE US HARM,
AND IT ENDS UP THE HOTEL IS GOING TO PAY THAT.
>>JIM NORMAN: THAT WAS MY POINT ABOUT WHO WE GO AFTER, BUT
WOULD YOU-ALL LIKE TO RESPOND TO THAT?
>> WELL, I MEAN, I THINK THAT THE INITIAL -- I'M SANDY
WEINBERG.
I THINK THE INITIAL FOCUS REALLY NEEDS TO BE ON THE HOTEL
ROOMS AND, REALLY, A VERY SORT OF DISCRETE ISSUE, WHICH
IS -- I WOULD CHARACTERIZE IT MAYBE SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT.
IT REALLY IS THE -- THE TAX IS VERY CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS.
IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE A TAX ON THE RETAIL RATE THAT THE
PERSON THAT SITS IN THE ROOM PAYS, AND WHAT'S HAPPENING IS
APPARENTLY YOU-ALL ARE COLLECTING A TAX BASED ON A
WHOLESALE PRICE THAT'S NOT COLLECTED FROM THE INDIVIDUAL
BUT IS -- BUT IS PAID BY THE -- BY THE INTERNET COMPANY.
THERE MAY BE SOME ADDITIONAL CHARGES THAT ARE COMPLETELY
LEGITIMATE THAT WOULD NOT BE TAXABLE IN THE SCENARIO THAT
YOU TALKED ABOUT, BUT THE WAY THE TAX IS -- THE WAY THE
STATUTE READS AND THE WAY YOUR ORDINANCE READS, IT IS -- IT
COVERS -- I BELIEVE RON WILL SAY THIS -- ANY -- YOU KNOW,
ANY SORT OF MANDATORY CHARGES THAT -- THAT AN OCCUPANT OF A
ROOM HAS TO PAY IN ORDER TO OCCUPY THE ROOM.
SO I THINK WE ARE SENSITIVE TO THE FACT THAT PEOPLE MAY,
YOU KNOW, MAKE A LIVING BASED ON WHAT YOU'VE DESCRIBED AS
UPCHARGING, BUT I DON'T THINK THAT THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT'S
GOING ON HERE, AND IT IS AN ISSUE THAT -- SORT OF TO
ADDRESS YOUR POINT, MS. SCOTT, IT'S AN ISSUE THAT -- THAT
REALLY CAN'T BE RESOLVED AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL BECAUSE
THERE ARE DIFFERENT TAXES AND ORDINANCES AND STATUTES IN
EVERY STATE, AND DEPENDING ON HOW THE PARTICULAR STATUTE
AND ORDINANCE DESCRIBES WHAT IS TAXABLE, THERE'S A
DIFFERENT EFFECT.
YOU-ALL'S IS VERY UNAMBIGUOUS, I BELIEVE.
SOME ARE MORE AMBIGUOUS.
IT COULD BE RECRAFTED TO SPECIFICALLY ADDRESS A SITUATION
OF UPCHARGING.
THIS PARTICULAR -- I BELIEVE IN THE INSTANCE THAT WE HAVE
HERE, WHAT THE EXPEDIAS OF THE WORLD OUGHT TO BE DOING, I
BELIEVE, IS BEING -- MAKING IT VERY CLEAR WHAT THE CHARGE
OF THE ROOM IS AS OPPOSED TO -- TO, YOU KNOW, SOME
ADDITIONAL SERVICE FEES, AND THEY HAVEN'T DONE THAT.
>> AND THE STATUTE IS CLEAR IN THAT IT'S LIMITED TO THE
RENTING, LEASING, OR LETTING OF ACCOMMODATIONS OR HOTEL
ROOMS, WHICH I BELIEVE REMOVES THAT COMPONENT OF
TRANSPORTATION, OF TICKETS, AND THE QUICK ANSWER IS IF
THERE'S -- IF THERE IS A MARKUP ON THAT ROOM --
>>JIM NORMAN: YOU NEED TO GET NEAR THE MICROPHONE.
I'M SORRY.
>> IF THERE A MARKUP ON THAT ROOM, THEN THE -- THE END
USER, THE CONSUMER, PAYS THE ADDITIONAL 5%, THEREBY NOT
EATING AWAY AT THE UPCHARGING OR THE REVENUE.
>>JIM NORMAN: OKAY.
MR. MORRISON, GO AHEAD.
>>BOB MORRISON: TWO QUESTIONS.
FIRST, GOING DIRECTLY TO THE POINT YOU JUST RAISED, IF, IN
FACT, THIS IS ALL DRIVEN BY A STATE STATUTE, WHY WOULDN'T
WE BE JUST AS PROTECTED BY LETTING OR ALLOWING THE
JACKSONVILLE OR THE OTHER CITIES AND/OR COUNTIES IN FLORIDA
PURSUE THE LITIGATION BECAUSE THE MARRIOTTS ARE IN THOSE
CITIES, THE HYATTS ARE IN THOSE CITIES, THE WESTINS, ET
CETERA, ET CETERA, ARE IN THOSE CITIES AS WELL?
I NEED YOU TO JUST KIND OF HELP US WITH WHY IS IT SO
CRITICAL THAT HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY JOIN IN THE LITIGATION
WHERE, IN ESSENCE, IF THE RULING IN JACKSONVILLE IS THAT
THE STATE STATUTE SAYS THESE TAXES ARE OWED, EXPLAIN TO ME
WHY THEY WOULDN'T BE OWED IN HILLSBOROUGH AS WELL?
>> THREE REASONS.
THE LOCAL ORDINANCES, THE DIFFERENCE IS CONTROL AND
EFFICIENCY.
THE STATE STATUTE AUTHORIZES EACH COUNTY OR EACH TAXING
DIVISION TO IMPOSE A TAX.
THE DIFFERENT COUNTIES DO NOT -- THE WORDING OF THE
ORDINANCES ARE NOT ALL IDENTICAL, SO THERE WILL BE
DIFFERENCES THERE.
NUMBER TWO, EFFICIENCY.
I THINK THAT THE THREE OF US HAVE ALL BEEN INVOLVED IN
CLASS ACTION LITIGATION THROUGHOUT OUR CAREERS.
THERE WILL BE A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF TIME, EFFORT, AND
EXPENSE ON CLASS CERTIFICATION.
IT WOULD NOT SURPRISE ME IF A YEAR OR MORE IS SPENT ON
NOTHING OTHER THAN CERTIFYING A CLASS.
>>BOB MORRISON: UH-HUH.
>> THAT'S AT A TRIAL COURT LEVEL.
ADD ON TO THAT IF SOMEBODY IS UNHAPPY WITH CLASS
CERTIFICATION WHAT APPELLATE ISSUES THERE MAY BE.
THAT WOULD BE REASON NUMBER TWO, THE EFFICIENCY OF
PROCEEDING ALONE AND NOT GETTING BOGGED DOWN IN THAT CLASS
CERTIFICATION MORASS.
ISSUE NUMBER THREE, AS MR. NORMAN TOUCHED UPON, IS CONTROL.
THERE ARE A VARIETY OF MANNERS IN WHICH THIS LITIGATION CAN
BE ULTIMATELY RESOLVED, GOING BACK "X" NUMBER OF YEARS.
BY CONTROLLING YOUR OWN LITIGATION, YOU CONTROL, AT THE
SETTLEMENT JUNCTURE, HOW MANY YEARS YOU ARE LOOKING
BACKWARDS.
IT COULD BE RESOLVED SOLELY ON A PROSPECTIVE FORMAT, WHERE
PAST TRANSGRESSIONS ARE -- ARE NOT -- ARE FORGIVEN, AND
GOING FORWARD THINGS CHANGE.
YOU, BY PROCEEDING AS HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY ALONE, RETAIN THE
CONTROL TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS.
BY PROCEEDING IN A CLASS, YOU GIVE UP SOME OF THAT OR YOU
MAY WELL GIVE UP SOME OF THAT CONTROL.
SO FOR THOSE THREE REASONS, AT LEAST IN MY OPINION -- AND
IF EITHER CHIP OR SANDY HAS ANOTHER REASON, I'M SURE
THEY'LL LET YOU KNOW --
>>JIM NORMAN: THAT'S GOOD.
>> -- PROCEEDING ALONE WOULD BE BENEFICIAL.
>>JIM NORMAN: YOU HAVE ANOTHER QUESTION?
>>BOB MORRISON: MY QUESTION IS, JUST READING THROUGH THE
MATERIAL THAT WAS PROVIDED TO US, THERE WAS AN ARTICLE OUT
OF THE SAN DIEGO PAPER, I GUESS, TRYING TO DESCRIBE HOW
THIS TAX WORKS OR HOW THIS RELATIONSHIP WORKS, AND THEY
USED THE TERM -- WHICH I THINK IS CORRECT, ACTUALLY -- A
NEGOTIATED BULK RATE PRICE.
IT ALMOST SEEMS TO ME THAT WHAT YOU'RE GOING TO PERHAPS
ENCOUNTER IS THE SIMPLE MESSAGE OF IF, IN FACT, THIS ROOM
WAS NOT PLACED THROUGH THIS MEDIUM, THAT ROOM WOULD GO
EMPTY.
IF THAT ROOM WENT EMPTY, THEN YOU WOULD HAVE NO TAX TO
COLLECT.
THUS, THE BASIS FOR THE NEGOTIATION IS TO CREATE A BUSINESS
ENVIRONMENT WHERE THERE MAY NOT BE ANY.
PUT THAT ASIDE, I GUESS THE QUESTION I HAVE IS, WHEN YOU
BEGIN TO LOOK AT -- OR WHEN THE COUNTY BEGINS TO LOOK AT
WHETHER TO ENGAGE IN THIS LITIGATION, I GUESS I WOULD JUST
ASK THE COUNTY ATTORNEY TO TAKE A CLOSER LOOK AT WHAT IS
THE IMPACT OF STANDING ALONE?
BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY, IF THE -- THE STATUTE -- THE
STATE STATUTE SAYS YOU ARE GIVEN THE AUTHORITY TO DO
CERTAIN THINGS, IN A SENSE, TO COLLECT THE TAX, THAT
COLLECTION, IF, IN FACT, THAT AUTHORITY IS CLEAR -- AND YOU
USED THE TERM "UNAMBIGUOUS" A MOMENT AGO -- I JUST QUESTION
THE VALUE -- I HEAR YOU, BUT I'M JUST NOT CERTAIN I'M CLEAR
AS TO WHERE THE ULTIMATE VALUE IS TO HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY,
AND ULTIMATELY, ON THE BACK END, WHAT DOES HILLSBOROUGH
COUNTY GIVE UP FOR THE CONTROL AND FOR THE EFFICIENCY AND
FOR THE -- THE ASSETS THAT YOU DESCRIBED A MOMENT AGO?
SO JUST A COUPLE OF QUESTIONS AND A COUPLE OF OBSERVATIONS
FOR EVERYONE'S CONSIDERATION.
>>JIM NORMAN: OKAY.
YES, SIR.
GO AHEAD.
>>JOHN DICKS: TWO QUICK QUESTIONS.
I WAS CONFUSED, MR. BUSH, WITH YOUR COMMENTS, BECAUSE WHEN
I READ THE BRIEF, IT APPEARED TO ME THAT THE INTERNET WEB
SITES WERE COLLECTING AT WHOLESALE -- EXCUSE ME --
COLLECTING AT RETAIL AND PAYING AT WHOLESALE, AND I GOT THE
IMPRESSION THAT YOU WERE SAYING THEY WERE NOT COLLECTING OR
REMITTING ANY TAXES.
>> THERE -- AND THAT'S A VERY GOOD OBSERVATION, BECAUSE
THERE APPEARS TO BE NO -- AT THIS -- AT THIS STAGE, NOT A
CLEAR-CUT ANSWER AS TO EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE DOING.
WHEN YOU READ THEIR 10-Ks, THEY SAY CRYSTAL CLEAR, WE'RE
NOT COLLECTING TAXES.
>>JOHN DICKS: RIGHT.
>> WHEN YOU READ SOME OF THE LITIGATION AROUND THE COUNTRY
AND SOME OF THE MEDIA REPORTS, THEY APPEAR TO TAKE THE
POSITION THAT PERHAPS THE EXPEDIAS ARE TAKING AN EVEN MORE
EGREGIOUS POSITION THAN NOT COLLECTING OR REMITTING TAXES;
THEY HAVE TAKEN THE POSITION THAT, IN FACT, THEY ARE
COLLECTING AT THE RETAIL RATE AND REMITTING AT THE
WHOLESALE RATE, WHICH WOULD BE A MORE EGREGIOUS POSITION,
BUT BECAUSE I DON'T THINK THE THREE OF US CAN STAND HERE
AND TELL YOU DEFINITIVELY THAT, IN FACT, THEY ARE TAKING
THE MORE EGREGIOUS POSITION --
>>JOHN DICKS: RIGHT.
>> -- WE, AS OFFICERS OF THE COURT, FELT MORE COMFORTABLE
PROVIDING YOU THE POSITION THAT, IN FACT, THEY HAVE
ACKNOWLEDGED IN THEIR 10-K, WHICH IS NOT COLLECTING OR
REMITTING AT ALL.
>> I THINK -- BUT WHAT IS CLEAR IS THAT -- I THINK IT'S
CLEAR -- IS THAT WHAT THE COUNTY IS GETTING IS THE 5% BASED
ON THE WHOLESALE PRICE AS OPPOSED TO WHAT THE CONSUMER
ACTUALLY PAID.
>> AND THAT'S CONFIRMED IN THE 10-K WHEN THEY SAY WE'RE
NEITHER COLLECTING NOR REMITTING.
YOU --
>>JIM NORMAN: OKAY.
>>JOHN DICKS: AND LET ME FOLLOW UP WITH THAT.
AND I DON'T MEAN TO GET BOGGED DOWN IN LEGALESE, BUT I'M
JUST KIND OF -- I'M JUST KIND OF CURIOUS BECAUSE THAT WOULD
BE A MORE EGREGIOUS POSITION THAN NOT COLLECTING AT ALL
BECAUSE I ASSUME THE ARGUMENT YOU WOULD HAVE TO OVERCOME IS
THEY WOULD BE ARGUING INTERNET COMMERCE, WHICH IS WHY SO
MANY WEB SITES DON'T CHARGE SALES TAXES; RIGHT?
THEY MAKE THAT ARGUMENT, ANYWAY.
>> IT SEEMS AT THIS STAGE THAT THEIR PRINCIPAL ARGUMENT IS
THEY'RE NOT RENTING HOTEL ROOMS, SO THEY'RE NOT RESPONSIBLE
TO PAY THE TAX, WHICH DOES NOT SEEM TO BE A PARTICULARLY
STRONG POSITION, BUT THAT'S THE POSITION THAT HAS BEEN
ASSERTED IN -- IN OTHER LITIGATION AROUND THE COUNTRY.
>>JOHN DICKS: ALL RIGHT.
AND THEN LET ME ASK YOU ONE -- ONE FINAL QUESTION, WHICH IS
REALLY, I GUESS, A HELPFUL QUESTION TO YOU, BECAUSE WHEN I
ORIGINALLY READ THE BRIEF AND WAS CONSIDERING THIS, I WAS
THINKING THAT IT WOULD BE TYPICAL COMMERCIAL LITIGATION IN
THAT THE COUNTY WOULD, OF COURSE, BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THOSE
COSTS, AND SO MY QUESTION TO THIS COUNSEL TODAY WAS WHY
WOULD WE NOT AT LEAST JOIN IN WITH PINELLAS COUNTY OR SOME
OF THE OTHER COUNTIES, LIKE MR. MORRISON WAS REALLY
REFERRING TO, BUT AS I HEAR YOU SPEAK TODAY, YOUR PROPOSAL
TO THE COUNTY, IF WE WERE TO RECOMMEND THIS, WOULD BE
PURELY 100% ON A CONTINGENT BASIS, WHICH MEANS THE COUNTY
WOULD HAVE NO RESPONSIBILITY IN THE EVENT THAT YOU WERE NOT
SUCCESSFUL, BECAUSE IN YOUR OWN BRIEF, I GUESS IT WAS LAS
VEGAS WHO -- WHO CHOSE NOT TO PROCEED WITH LITIGATION
BECAUSE THEY WERE CONCERNED ABOUT THE ODDS, BUT YOUR
PROPOSAL IS PURELY 100% TOTAL CONTINGENT, WHICH WOULD LEAVE
NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE COUNTY?
>> THAT'S CORRECT, AND WHAT WE PROPOSE --
>>JIM NORMAN: THAT'S GOOD ENOUGH.
THAT'S GOOD ENOUGH.
THANK YOU.
>>JOHN DICKS: I'M SORRY TO TAKE SO LONG, BUT I WANTED TO
GET THAT OUT THERE.
>>JIM NORMAN: YES IS A GOOD ANSWER.
LOU.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: THANK YOU.
I'VE GOT THREE OR FOUR QUESTIONS AND ALSO FOR MS. LEE.
YOU USED THE EXAMPLE OF $60 VERSUS $100.
YOU'RE NOT SUGGESTING THAT WE DOUBLE TAX, IN OTHER WORDS,
WE CHARGE TAX FOR $600 AND THEN ANOTHER $100, YOU'RE
TALKING ABOUT THE DELTA FOR THE VARIANCE THERE, THE $40
PIECE, FOR EXAMPLE?
>> YES, SIR.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: SECONDLY, DID YOU APPROACH THE COUNTY OR
DID THE COUNTY APPROACH YOU?
>> WE ACTUALLY APPROACHED THE COUNTY.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: YOUR CONTINGENCY FEE, IF YOU WILL, WHAT
WOULD THAT BE?
WHAT WOULD IT RUN?
>> WE WOULD PROPOSE TO SIT DOWN WITH THE TAX COLLECTOR AND
SOME OTHER FOLKS TO DO THE DUE DILIGENCE TO ACTUALLY GET A
HANDLE ON THE AMOUNT THAT WOULD BE AT STAKE AND THEN SIT
DOWN AND COME TO TERMS WITH THE EXACT PERCENTAGES AS TO HOW
THAT -- HOW THAT WOULD WORK.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: YOU'RE A WISE GENTLEMAN OR YOU WOULDN'T
BE HERE, AND YOU SAID EARLIER YOU DIDN'T KNOW EXACTLY WHAT
THAT AMOUNT WOULD BE.
ESTIMATE IT FOR US.
>> I COULDN'T.
I REALLY COULDN'T.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: YOU HAVE NO IDEA, NO ESTIMATE WHATSOEVER
YOU COULD PROVIDE?
>> THE -- THAT INFORMATION, AS YOU MIGHT IMAGINE, IS -- IS
RATHER CLOSELY GUARDED.
WE WOULD NEED -- WE PROBABLY COULD COME UP OR HOPEFULLY
COME UP WITH AN ESTIMATE AFTER SITTING WITH THE TAX
COLLECTOR FOR A PERIOD OF TIME AND DOING SOME ANALYSIS, BUT
THE HARD NUMBERS PROBABLY WON'T COME UP UNTIL WE ACTUALLY
GET INTO THE LITIGATION AND ENGAGE IN THE DISCOVERY AND DO
THOSE THINGS.
BUT WE CERTAINLY WOULD HOPE TO BE ABLE TO COME UP WITH AN
ESTIMATE MEETING WITH THE TAX COLLECTOR.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: WOULD YOU CARE TO TAKE A STAB?
IS IT IN THE TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS OR THE MILLIONS
OF DOLLARS?
>> YOU KNOW, I WOULD PREFER NOT TO BECAUSE I WOULD HAVE
ABSOLUTELY NO BASIS.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: OKAY.
>> BUT I THINK THAT -- THAT IF YOU LOOK --
>>JIM NORMAN: MR. WEINBERG, YOU NEED TO GET TO THE
MICROPHONE.
>> I THINK IF YOU LOOK HISTORICALLY THAT IT IS A
SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF REVENUE FOR THE COUNTY TO GET THIS
STRAIGHTENED OUT, SO -- SO, I MEAN, IF --
>>LOU PLASENCIA: BUT IS THERE MERIT THERE?
IF IT'S A FEW THOUSAND DOLLARS OR A COUPLE TENS OF THOUSAND
DOLLARS, YOU KNOW, 20,000, 300,000, DOES IT -- YOU KNOW, AT
SOME POINT, THERE'S A POINT OF INDIFFERENCE.
>> I DON'T BELIEVE THAT IT'S -- IT'S AN INSIGNIFICANT
AMOUNT OF MONEY.
I BELIEVE THAT IT'S A SIGNIFICANT AMOUNT OF MONEY.
BUT WHAT WE CAN'T DO IS -- I DON'T KNOW, AS I SIT HERE
TODAY, HOW MUCH -- HOW MUCH BUSINESS THAT EXPEDIA -- THE
EXPEDIAS OF THE WORLD WRITE THROUGH HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY,
AND THEREFORE, I CAN'T GIVE YOU A -- AS WE SIT HERE, AN
ESTIMATE AS TO WHAT IT AMOUNTS TO.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: OKAY.
>> CHIP RICE.
>>JIM NORMAN: YOU DON'T ALL NEED TO ANSWER IT.
>> WE CAN TELL YOU THAT EXPEDIA IS A $15-BILLION COMPANY.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: UNDERSTOOD.
>> ONE THING I CAN ALSO --
>>JIM NORMAN: NO.
WE NEED TO BE A LITTLE MORE TO THE POINT ON ANSWERS.
YES.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: I HAVE ONE LAST QUICK QUESTION FOR YOU.
THE REVENUES THAT MIGHT COME IN, THE TAXES THAT MIGHT COME
IN, YOU INDICATED EARLIER THAT WOULD GO INTO THE COUNTY
COFFERS.
WOULD THEY BE REMITTED TO TDC ALLOCATION, OR IS THIS GOING
INTO THE GENERAL REVENUE FUND?
>>RENEE LEE: TRADITIONALLY, THE MONEY THAT'S RECOVERED IN
A LITIGATION LAWSUIT GOES INTO THE GENERAL FUND; HOWEVER,
WHEN THERE ARE ENTERPRISE FUNDS OR A SPECIAL FUND SUCH AS
THE TOURIST DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL, THE BOARD HAS REDIRECTED
THOSE LITIGATION DOLLARS BACK TO THAT FUND.
I THINK IT WOULD BE THE BOARD'S DECISION, BUT I THINK IT'S
DETERMINED THAT THIS -- THE TDC WOULD BE ENTITLED TO THOSE
FUNDS ORDINARILY BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE THE INCOME STREAM,
SO I THINK --
>>JIM NORMAN: AND LOU, I CAN PRETTY MUCH SPEAK TO THAT.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: MR. CHAIRMAN, THANK YOU FOR INDULGING ME.
>>JIM NORMAN: ON THAT POINT, OUR ACTIONS HAVE BEEN, AS SHE
PREVIOUSLY STATED, WE LOOK FOR THE REFERENCE POINT OF WHERE
THE DOLLARS CAME FROM.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: THANK YOU, SIR.
>>JIM NORMAN: ANY OTHER COMMENTS OR QUESTIONS?
>>JOHN DICKS: YOU NEED A MOTION?
>>JIM NORMAN: YES, SIR.
>>JOHN DICKS: MR. CHAIRMAN, I WOULD MOVE THAT WE RECOMMEND
TO THE COUNTY TO PROCEED INTO DISCUSSIONS FOR THE COUNTY'S
CONSIDERATION FOR RETAINING THE LAW FIRM IN THIS MATTER.
>>JIM NORMAN: WOULD YOU ADD TO THAT THAT FULL INFORMATION
ON THE OUTCOME WOULD COME BACK TO THIS BOARD ON ANY
AGREEMENTS THAT WERE FINALIZED OR WHATEVER?
>>JOHN DICKS: YOU SAID THAT WELL.
>>JIM NORMAN: WITH LOU'S POINT.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: MR. CHAIRMAN, I HAVE TO TELL YOU, I WOULD
WANT TO HAVE MORE INFORMATION FROM THE HOTEL COMMUNITY
AND -- AND THEIR BELIEF, THEIR IMPACT ON THEIR BUSINESS
BEFORE I COULD SUPPORT SUCH A MOTION.
I JUST HAVE A CONCERN THAT WE HAVEN'T EVALUATED THE FINAL
IMPACT ON THAT GUEST THAT'S WALKING THROUGH THE DOOR, AND
IS THAT GUEST GOING TO GO TO ANOTHER COUNTY BECAUSE WE'RE
CHARGING -- THERE'S A HIGHER TAX HERE?
I DON'T KNOW.
IT'S A -- SORRY.
>>BOB MORRISON: I GUESS THAT'S WHERE THE WHOLE ISSUE OF IF
THIS IS A STATE STATUTE AND IT HAS APPLICATION STATEWIDE,
THEN WE DON'T HAVE THE ISSUE OF SOMEONE GOING FROM COUNTY
TO COUNTY IF, IN FACT, IT'S FOUND OR DISCOVERED THAT THE
DECISION IS NOT DRIVEN BY A LOCAL ORDINANCE BUT, IN FACT,
IT'S DRIVEN BY A STATE STATUTE.
>>JIM NORMAN: THERE IS A DIFFERENCE THERE.
IT'S A STATE STATUTE, BUT IT'S IMPLEMENTED -- THE COUNTY
COMMISSION HAS THE AUTHORITY TO IMPLEMENT IT, SO IT IS A
LOCAL ISSUE.
THEY DON'T IMPLEMENT OUR ORDINANCES AND OUR TAXES HERE.
>>BOB MORRISON: BUT THE IMPLEMENTATION IS PURSUANT TO
STATE STATUTE, AND THAT STATUTE -- YOU CAN'T COLLECT WHAT
THE AUTHORITY -- WHAT AUTHORITY IS NOT PROVIDED BY OR VIA
STATE STATUTE.
THAT'S WHY MY QUESTION TO THE COUNTY ATTORNEY WAS JUST
THE -- JUST TO CONFIRM OR ASSURE THAT WE ARE NOT IN A BOX
WHERE WE GET INTO LITIGATION OR INCUR LITIGATION COSTS
WHERE WE MAY FIND AT THE END OF THE DAY THAT THE RULING IN
JACKSONVILLE COUNTY CAN'T HELP BUT BE STATEWIDE BECAUSE OF
THE ORIGIN OF THE POWER TO TAX IS ULTIMATELY FROM THE
STATE.
THAT'S A QUESTION FOR THE COUNTY ATTORNEY.
>>RENEE LEE: THAT'S BEEN ANSWERED FOR YOU, MEMBER, BECAUSE
THERE ARE DIFFERENT ORDINANCES IN THE DIFFERENT COUNTIES,
AND I THINK YOU'LL FIND THAT THEY'RE VERY INDIVIDUAL.
>>JIM NORMAN: AND LOU, I WANT TO MAKE A COMMENT ABOUT --
>>LOU PLASENCIA: PLEASE.
>>JIM NORMAN: SEE, I BELIEVE THAT WITH US, WITH OUR
INDIVIDUAL LAWSUIT, WE'RE ABLE TO PROTECT OUR LOCAL
HOTELIERS.
IF WE RELY ON JACKSONVILLE AND DIFFERENT PEOPLE TO BE AT A
TABLE WITHOUT OUR INDIVIDUAL LAWSUIT, THEY'RE GOING TO DEAL
THEIR ORDINANCES AND THEY'RE GOING TO DEAL WITH WHATEVER
HAPPENS.
WE'LL HAVE TO TAKE WHAT THEY HAVE.
IF OUR COUNTY ATTORNEY AND OUR COUNTY IS THE ONE FILING THE
PURSUIT, WE CAN NOT PURSUE THESE OTHER THINGS YOU
MENTIONED, AND WE CAN FOCUS IT ON ONE ASPECT OF THIS
INTERNET SALE VERSUS OTHER THINGS YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT,
WHICH THE OTHERS MAY BE GOING AFTER ALL OF THAT.
WE WOULD NOT IN OUR INDIVIDUAL SUIT.
THESE ARE CONVERSATIONS WITH THE COUNTY ATTORNEY,
NATURALLY.
THAT WE COULD FOCUS IT SO NARROWLY THAT WE COULD DETERMINE
THE YEARS, THE SETTLEMENT, AND WE WOULD HAVE CONTROL.
OTHERWISE, IF WE TIE ON TO OTHER PEOPLE, WE WOULD BE GIVEN
WHAT WE GOT INSTEAD OF DIRECTING OUR OWN FATE.
THAT WAS FROM A PROTECTION STANDPOINT OF OUR HOTELIERS.
>>LOU PLASENCIA: I APPRECIATE THAT.
>>JIM NORMAN: I HAD QUITE A LONG CONVERSATION WITH THEM TO
DETERMINE THESE THINGS I'M TELLING YOU TODAY.
>>JOE COLLIER: SEEMS TO ME IF WE GOT ANOTHER CRACK ON
THIS, IN THE MEANTIME, WE COULD LIST OUT THE TYPE OF
INTERMEDIARIES THAT WOULD BE INVOLVED IN THIS TYPE OF THING
THAT COULD CAUSE US SOME PROBLEMS.
LIKE I SAID, I THINK THERE'S A CHANCE SOME OF THIS IS GOING
TO END UP COMING BACK TO THE HOTELS.
THEY'RE GOING TO KEEP THEIR MARGINS THE SAME, WE ARE GOING
TO END UP TAKING IT ON THE SHORT.
SOME OF THE BIG GUYS ARE GOING TO COME IN AND SAY, HEY, WE
GIVE YOUR CITY 250,000 ROOM NIGHTS A YEAR, AND SO
THEREFORE, YOU GUYS WANT TO DO THIS TO US -- I DON'T KNOW.
I DON'T KNOW HOW THAT'S GOING TO GO, BUT NONETHELESS, IT'S
A FAIRLY -- IT'S A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER.
I MEAN, ALL YOU'VE GOT TO DO IS LOOK AT THE PERCENTAGES --
>> [INAUDIBLE]
>>JOE COLLIER: YEAH.
THE SALES FOR INTERMEDIARIES, THEY PROVIDE 30% OF HOTELS'
BUSINESSES, AND IT'S RISING, SO IT'S GOING TO BE A BIG
NUMBER.
IT'S NOT GOING TO BE A SMALL NUMBER.
>>JIM NORMAN: MS. LEE.
>>RENEE LEE: MR. CHAIR AND MEMBERS, I WOULD HOPE THIS
WOULD BE AN ONGOING PROCESS.
AS WE GO THROUGH THIS PROCESS OF DUE DILIGENCE, IF WE FIND
ANYTHING, WE WILL BRING IT BACK TO THIS BODY, AND IF YOU
THINK OF SOMETHING IN THE MEANTIME, IF YOU WILL COMMUNICATE
WITH ME AND I'LL PASS IT ON TO THE ATTORNEYS, BUT WE -- THE
COUNTY ATTORNEY'S OFFICE HAS NOT REALLY DONE DUE DILIGENCE
WITH THIS.
OUR THRESHOLD QUESTION IS DOES IT DO HARM TO THE INDUSTRY,
AND THAT'S WHAT WE THOUGHT WE WOULD HAVE YOU ANSWER HERE.
IF YOU DISCOVER AFTER THIS DATE THAT THERE IS SOMETHING,
SOMETHING INDICATOR THAT YOU HAVE THAT THERE IS A PROBLEM,
PLEASE LET ME KNOW.
>>JIM NORMAN: I'M TRYING TO DETERMINE WHERE WE ARE.
ARE WE ASKING THEM TO GO OFF AND DO THEIR DUE DILIGENCE AND
COME BACK TO THIS BOARD, LET EVERYONE GO BACK, TALK, AND
AGENDA THIS AT OUR NEXT MEETING, GO THROUGH THE DUE
DILIGENCE WITH THE TAX COLLECTOR, DO ALL OF THE THINGS THAT
YOU NEED TO DO TO SECURE THE CONTRACT TO MOVE FORWARD, AND
THEN BRING THIS BACK FOR --
>>LOU PLASENCIA: IS THAT AN AMENDMENT TO THE MOTION?>>JIM
NORMAN: -- -- FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.
IF PEOPLE WANT MORE INFORMATION.
YES, MA'AM.
>>MARY SCOTT: WE TALKED ABOUT EXPEDIA AND TRAVELOCITY.
THERE ARE SO MANY OTHERS, MARRIOTT.COM AND HYATT.COM.
SO THIS THING IS HUGE.
I THINK WE NEED TO REALLY THINK ABOUT THIS.
>>JIM NORMAN: YES, SIR.
>> IT WOULD BE -- IT MIGHT BE HELPFUL IF ONE OF US COULD
MEET WITH ONE OF YOU OR SOMEBODY IN THE HOTEL INDUSTRY TO
JUST -- YOU KNOW, AS WE'RE TALKING TO THE TAX COLLECTOR,
ALSO TO TALK ABOUT -- YOU KNOW, HOW THIS MIGHT IMPACT AND
HOW IT ACTUALLY WORKS.
>>JIM NORMAN: WHAT ABOUT THE ASSOCIATION ITSELF, THE
HOTEL/MOTEL ASSOCIATION, TO APPEAR BEFORE THAT GROUP?
>>JOE COLLIER: WE HAVE OPPORTUNITIES COMING UP WHERE THE
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY HOTEL/MOTEL ASSOCIATION WILL BE
MEETING.
YOU'LL HAVE ALL THE GENERAL MANAGERS IN A ROOM, THEY CAN
HEAR ABOUT IT, THINK ABOUT IT, THEN EVERYBODY IN THE
BUSINESS HAS A CHANCE TO EMBRACE THIS.
>>JIM NORMAN: IS THAT FAIR?
THAT WAY YOU HAVE ONE NOT ONE OR TWO, BUT EVERYONE.
>>BOB MORRISON: THAT WOULD GIVE YOU A RANGE BETWEEN SMALL
AND LARGE.
>>JOE COLLIER: DECEMBER 7th GUEST SPEAKERS.
WE JUST FOUND THEM.
>>JOHN DICKS: I'M COMFORTABLE WITH DOING THAT SINCE THAT
SEEMS TO BE THE CONSENSUS, BUT LET ME CAUTION YOU, CLEARLY
THERE IS AN EQUITABLE ISSUE AS WELL.
I MEAN, IF WE BECAME AWARE OF A HOTEL OR RESORT THAT WAS
NOT COLLECTING THE TOURIST TAX, IT WOULD BE INCUMBENT ON US
TO SEEK SOME SORT OF ACTION AGAINST THEM, AND IF WE BELIEVE
THAT THIS IS GOING ON, THEN IT'S CERTAINLY A RESPONSIBILITY
THAT WE HAVE TO SEE WHAT TYPE OF OBLIGATION THEY HAVE TO
PAY THAT, AND THAT WAS THE PURPOSE FOR MY MOTION TO HAVE
THE -- HAVE THEM MAKE THAT REPRESENTATION TO THE COUNTY.
>>JOE COLLIER: WELL, IT'S DEFINITELY GOING ON WITH A LOT
OF THEM, BUT WE'RE OKAY WITH THAT.
THAT'S THE PROBLEM WHERE YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE THE ISSUE,
NOT THE INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS, BUT ALL OF THESE OTHER
GROUPS THAT DO ALL THIS.
THEY MAKE A PROFIT OFF IT.
WE KNOW THAT.
WE DON'T CARE.
>>JIM NORMAN: I BELIEVE THEIR MISSION THAT THEY'RE GOING
TO BRING BACK AND TALK TO YOU IS ONLY GOING TO BE THE
INTERNET.
IS THAT CORRECT?
>> YES, SIR.
>>JIM NORMAN: SO YOU-ALL UNDERSTAND.
MEET WITH EVERYONE, GO TO THE HOTEL/MOTEL ASSOCIATION, AND
YOU WILL BE BACK ON OUR AGENDA AT THE NEXT MEETING, THEN
WHATEVER ACTION WILL BE TAKEN BY THIS BOARD.
>> THANK YOU.
>>RENEE LEE: THANK YOU.
>>JIM NORMAN: THAT'S THE MOTION.
>> WE NEED TO VOTE?
>>JIM NORMAN: YES, SIR.
THAT'S THE MOTION TO DIRECT EVERYBODY TO DO.
RAISE YOUR HAND IN SUPPORT.
OKAY.
PASSES 6-1.
ALL RIGHT.
>>GENE GRAY: MR. CHAIRMAN -- AND I, OF COURSE, WILL BE
GLAD TO FACILITATE THE COORDINATION NECESSARY TO GET THIS,
WORKING IN CONJUNCTION WITH MR. MORRISON.
>>JIM NORMAN: THANK YOU ALL FOR COMING DOWN TODAY.