Tag: Orange

Orange County comptroller sees signs of hope after September hotel stays bring in $7 million

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County’s comptroller, Phil Diamond, said the tourist development tax dollars from hotel and resort stays around the county continue to go up after the initial plunge this spring due to coronavirus closures.

Diamond announced Monday the September numbers further the trend of increasing collections every month since April.

He said the county brought in TDT collections totaling more than $7 million for the month of September.

[TRENDING: Eta drenches Florida | 2 killed in Orange County crash | Biden names COVID-19 task force]

Diamond said that’s a 60% decrease from the same time last year but he added, in looking at the numbers, there are signs of hope.

When you compare September, which is just over $7 million, to the more than $5.7 million in TDT dollars in August of 2020, that’s an increase of over 22%.

Diamond also said travel has slowly been increasing since the month of April, which he attributed to the fact that there hasn’t been widespread outbreaks of COVID-19 at the theme parks.

Diamond said September is the final collection month for the fiscal year, and in comparing the numbers from 2020 to last year, he said they’ve seen a 41% decrease in collections.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said while the promising COVID-19 vaccine news reported by Pfizer was encouraging, he said they may not see a significant improvement in the TDT numbers until late first quarter or second quarter of 2021.

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Orange hotel tax collection inch up as virus continues to spread

Hotel taxes inched up again in September, the final month of a fiscal year which witnessed a historic crash of Orange County’s tourism economy crippled by a pandemic which continues to grip not only the region, but the nation and the world.

Revenue from the county’s levy on short-term lodging totaled $7.03 million in September, up from $5.78 million in August but a far cry from the $17.7 million collected in September 2019 when tourists packed theme parks to experience adventures and attractions built around Star Wars, Toy Story and boy wizard Harry Potter.

This year’s total collections were once expected to hit a record of nearly $300 million, but once the pandemic took hold fell to a different record, instead. Total collections amounted to just $167.3 million compared to $284 million last year.

“That’s the biggest year-over-year decrease in the history of the tax,” said Orange Comptroller Phil Diamond.

Officials said said there was a bright spot to be found in September’s increase over August and decreased expenses — particularly a halt on spending for a planned expansion to the Orange County Convention Center — which means the county is now drawing down its reserve fund at a slower clip and one Diamond called more “sustainable.”

“There are really definite signs of hope,” he said. “We’ve increased every month since April. Travel has been increasing as travelers become more comfortable with safety protocols and our region’s relatively low COVID-19 rates.”

Theme parks and other attractions closed in mid-March because of the pandemic, and began re-opening at limited capacity in June. Gradually, some tourism activity is picking back up, though Diamond noted continued outbreaks across the country that are likely to stall travel plans.

”One factor, we think, is that there have not been any widespread reported infections stemming from the parks, the tourism areas or anywhere that should give anybody, any concern.”

He said news from Pfizer on Monday that early data shows an effective vaccine is “very encouraging and very welcome.”

But the virus continued to stampede through Central Florida with new deaths and more cases reported on Monday.

Dr. Raul Pino, Orange’s state health officer, said 19 more deaths were added to the count since Friday, though it was unclear when those individuals died.

“Our data shows that cases are increasing,” he said, encouraging people to continue wearing masks, washing their hands and keeping socially-distant from others.

He said many of the cases in Orange seem to be transmitted among people who know each other who came in close contact at a social gathering such as a birthday party or other event, though he said no outbreaks had been traced to the large political rallies that occurred in the weeks before the election.

Pino also said there was a mix-up at the health department that resulted in 26 students at Bridgewater Middle School in the Winder Garden area not receiving a notification over the weekend that they should quarantine. As a result of an e-mail not being

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$25 million Orange hotel set for approval despite height issue | Central Western Daily

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A $25 million hotel development at the Summer Centre has been recommended for approval even though it will be 50 per cent taller than the limit allowed for the site. Orange City Council will consider a report on the 98-room Summer Street hotel on Tuesday night. The report says the building will stand 18 metres high at its tallest point but the maximum allowed for the site is 12 metres. Public submissions on the development have also raised concerns about noise levels and its affects on a neighbouring shop. “The overall bulk and scale of the development is a significant issue for council to determine,” the report said. It said the DA was seeking to allow for the building to be taller than the site’s limit. “On balance it is considered that the increased height of this building is not unreasonable in its context and it is therefore recommended that council supports the proposed building height,” it said. One public submission said increasing the height “would set a dangerous precedent” for the CBD. A separate submission from solicitors acting for the owner of an adjacent antiques shop said there were concerns about the shop’s continued access to the rear for loading and the front for parking. It said there were concerns about excess noise from the hotel and odour from two garbage rooms to be built behind the shop. The council’s heritage advisor has also requested the facade of a former bicycle shop on Summer Street be retained in the development to contrast old and new. However, the report said a heritage impact statement had not been provided with the DA as approval for demolition of the building had already been granted. The four-storey building will have 6000 square metres of floor space providing accommodation, reception, lounges, a cafe, a function room, bars, a gym, a pool and a roof terrace. There will a pub and bistro on the ground floor with a courtyard, retail shops on the ground floor plus basement parking for 189 cars. In the total area including the new hotel, the Summer Centre shops and a site on Sale Street there is provision for 446 parking spaces. It includes 229 spaces on site at ground level, 28 in the main Summer Centre loading dock, 43 in Basement 1 Upper, 100 in Basement 1 Lower, and 46 in Basement 2. The council report said the parking was adequate for the site. Transport for NSW has recommended a left hand turning lane or an equivalent space be provided for traffic to access the hotel. “Westbound traffic turning into the site from Summer Street will be significant. Council should be satisfied whether widening of the bus bay and parking lane to serve this function is appropriate,” it said. It said the average daily traffic flow on Summer Street was expected to be 15,000-22,000 vehicles based on counts near the site. A NSW Police risk assessment of the development has found the potential for incidences of stealing from

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At least 9 nabbed in sex-for-hire hotel sting operation: Orange Police Blotter


Soliciting: Orange Place

A multi-agency sex trafficking task force, set up through the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office, booked a local hotel room for a sting operation on Oct. 21. They wound up greeting at least six would-be customers who arrived at the door after agreeing over the phone to pay for sex.

The suspects were responding to ads posted by undercover agents on targeted websites designed to solicit sex for hire, and included:

— A Willoughby Hills man, 30, agreeing to $80 for an hour at 6:50 p.m., confirmed when police checked his phone

— A Cleveland Heights man, 32, seeking 15 minutes for $60 at 8:18 p.m.

— Another Cleveland Heights man, 33, scheduling a quick visit for $80 at 8:40 p.m. Police noticed that his concealed-carry permit had expired and asked him if he had any guns in his possession, seizing a loaded .380-caliber Bersa from under his car seat

— A Cleveland man, 45, seeking full service, including oral, for $70 at 9:21 p.m.

— A Livingston County, N.Y. man, 49, who negotiated $220 for an hour, but only had $206 upon arrival at 10:10 p.m. Being from out-of-state, he also had to post a $150 bond.

Prostitution: Orange Place

As part of the multi-agency sting operation conducted out of a local hotel room, and with Orange officers taking part, at least three women were arrested on prostitution charges Oct. 21, including:

— A Mansfield woman, 20, who agreed to have sex for an hour for $200 around 5 p.m., then was also charged with resisting arrest when she refused to put her hands behind her back

— A Parma woman, 31, who also negotiated a price of $200 for an hour, then had undercover police meet her in her room at another Orange motel around 9 p.m. Police found a warrant with Solon and took her to the jail there.

— A Seven Hills woman, 46, who agreed to perform oral sex for a negotiated price of $120, admitting to conducting sex-for-hire at 9:40 p.m.

Aggravated robbery (gun), larceny-theft: Orange Place

An Akron woman, 23, reported around 1:30 p.m. Oct. 21 that she had planned on hooking up for sex with a man she had met online, but when she opened the door to her room at the Courtyard Marriott, he pointed a gun at her head, demanding money and her phone.

She told him she had no money and gave him the phone, for which he made her give him her password, then forced her into the bathroom and told her not to leave. A few minutes later, she called the front desk from the hotel room phone.

The visibly shaken woman described the suspect as a Black man in his mid- to late 20s, about 5 feet, 7 inches tall and heavier set, possibly wearing a red sweatshirt and dark sweatpants.

T-Mobile initially refused to track her phone.

As for suspects, she said she had noticed three men standing by an older

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Nearly 2 dozen guests evacuated from Orange County hotel

More than two dozen guests at an Orange County hotel were abruptly told they needed to leave the building Wednesday.


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It could be days before guests are allowed to return.

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“It’s just me by myself,” Norance Davidson told WESH 2 News.

Davidson has been staying at the Quality Inn and Suites on Lee Road for eight months.

On Wednesday, she was among the 30 guests who were told to evacuate.

“This morning we got a bang at the door and they said we have two hours to get out,” Davidson said.

The Orange County Fire Rescue fire marshal David Kilbury said a fire alarm call came from the hotel late Tuesday but it was a false alarm. However, there was trouble on the panel and they needed to follow up.

When Kilbury did a follow up, he found the fire pump was out and the sprinklers wouldn’t work in the event of a fire.

The Quality Inn made the decision to voluntarily evacuate around 11 a.m.

Davidson said she hasn’t been helped when it came to finding a place to stay.

“You tell us you’re going to call some hotels and check out some things but then all you did was call and ask people what the prices were. You never booked a room for the people here. You never gave us an option of somewhere to go,” Davidson said.

Kilbury said the manager informed him they’re working with Quality Inn corporate to contact future guests who had planned to arrive.

“Everybody that left here had nowhere to go,” Davidson said.

Kilbury also said management told him there were other hotels in the area which would honor the rate they were paying per night.

“I have nowhere to go. They have my money, they told me they refunded it but that takes five to seven days. So what am I suppose to do for the next five to seven days? Sleep on the street?” Davidson asked.

READ THE FULL STORY:Nearly 2 dozen guests evacuated from Orange County hotel

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