The county charges a tax on each hotel room and uses the revenue on projects to enhance or promote tourism. The total income has been on a steady rise, as Indian River becomes more popular, more hotels are being built, and hotel room prices rise. The total annual revenue changes depending on the level of tourists and the size of annual state grants, but quite consistently there is about $1 million from the bed tax, about $550,000 from Vero and just under $400,000 from the rest of the county. Grant income has varied from $5.5 million to $1.8 million, to $900,000 in the last three years.
The county decides how the money is spent, except the grants are usually tied to certain projects, most often related to beach restoration. For years, Vero beach has questioned how the money is divided up, arguing that it earns most of the money yet it receives almost none. More specifically, none of the bed tax is spent specifically in Vero but money does go to services shared by Vero, like the Chamber of Commerce. None of the beach restoration money goes to the Sector 5 which is the area of the beach near the Ocean Grill, and none of the money is used to take care of lifeguards and parks along the beach which are responsible for bringing the tourists to Vero, and could definitely be categorized as promoting tourism.
The use of the tourist tax money will be debated hotly until there is some rational way to divide it equitably, rationally, and agreed by all. Not something to resolve quickly.