RNC economic impact in question with release of sales tax numbers

4:37 PM, Oct 18, 2012   |    comments
The Tampa Bay Times Forum as it appeared for the 2012 Republican National Convention
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TAMPA BAY, Florida - Sales tax numbers for the month of August are in, but it's not clear if the Republican National Convention (RNC) actually boosted the economy in Tampa Bay.

While bed tax numbers reveal hotels in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties saw big August surges, preliminary sales tax receipts into the Florida Department of Revenue indicate there may not have been a significant bump in overall expenditures.

In Hillsborough County, sales tax collections were up $730,000, or 6%, from the previous August; Pinellas County saw a $340,000 (4%) boost.  However, each county has averaged year-to-year improvements between 2% and 8% every month in 2012, so the August gains could be attributed to the improving economy.

And despite hosting thousands of official RNC visitors, neither Hillsborough nor Pinellas County matched the August sales tax surges in Manatee (9%), Pasco (8%), or Polk (8%) counties.

Some economists theorized that Tampa Bay businesses suffered during the RNC when residents decided to stay home instead of dealing with potential security or traffic headaches associated with visiting local establishments.

On Thursday, the Tampa 2012 Host Committee held a press conference following the filing of its detailed FEC report.  Chief Executive Officer Ken Jones heralded the week-long event as a success and predicted an economic impact to the Tampa Bay Area of more than $180 million.

Jones also said the Host Committee expects to return several million dollars to local charities once all of its accounts are settled.

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