Tourism Development Council: Funding Indian River Lagoon, Lori Wilson Park May Jeopardize Beach Renourishment

Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach, Florida

COCOA BEACH, Florida – The Tourism Development Council is asking the Brevard County Commission at a meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, to consider a 12-month hold on using tourist tax revenue for the funding of restoration of the Indian River Lagoon and improvements to Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach, Florida because funding those projects might jeopardize beach renourishment projects.

“It is requested that the Board of County Commissioners provide staff direction regarding the Tourist Development Council’s (TDC) unanimous recommendation to place Indian River Lagoon Grant Program for future grants and the Lori Wilson Park project on hold for 12 months, with the exception of expenses needed for Park maintenance and repairs,” the Agenda item states.

“This recommendation would remove funding both items from the Tourist Development Office’s budget for the Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget year. Both projects would be brought back to the TDC’s Beach Committee and the TDC for review next year for the Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget.”

The Tourist Development Council said that its Beach Committee reviewed three potential 50-year Beach Plans.

“Two of the beach plans show that if we continue with the current anticipated budget and do not adjust the Indian River Lagoon Grants for the future, and the Lori Wilson Park Project, the Beach Fund will be in the negative within the next several years and risk violating project cooperation agreements with the Army Corps of Engineers. This would result in loss of financial support for beach renourishment projects that could amount to multi-millions of dollars.”

“When the Indian River Lagoon Grant Program and Lori Wilson Park project, were included in the Beach Improvement Fund budget by the Board in 2018, it was during a time of unprecedented Tourist Development Tax collection growth. Both the grant program and park project funded as secondary priorities to beach renourishment projects. This was to account for potential reduction in expenditures to the Indian River Lagoon Grant Program and Lori Wilson Park project if a drop in TDT tax revenue were to occur. A drop in Tourist Development Tax Funds has occurred, with a projected decrease of $5.6 million (33.7%) in Fiscal Year 2020-2021.”