ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The COVID-19 pandemic has cost Orange County tens of millions of dollars in tourist-tax revenue over the past several months.

The county is down more than $116 million in these tax collections compared to last fiscal year, according to the county comptroller. That is a 41% drop.

What You Need To Know

  • Tourist-tax collections dropped 41% from last year

  • The county has pulled $63 million from its tax reserves

  • Collections have shown steady month-to-month improvements since April

“That is the biggest year-over-year decrease in the history of the tourist-development tax, percentage-wise,” Comptroller Phil Diamond explained in a news conference Monday. “That’s an amount that we haven’t seen since 2010 during the Great Recession.”

The county has been using its tourist-tax reserves to keep whole and meet funding obligations, amounting to nearly $63 million pulled from the reserves since April, according to Diamond.

Mayor Jerry Demings explained certain expenses have been deferred to keep from diminishing the reserves, as well as cutting back on some projects, including the convention center expansion. He likened that expansion to a “spicket” that still dripped money for a while even after it closed.

County numbers show September’s collections, the final ones for the fiscal year, topped $7 million, which is down 60% from September 2019. Collections have increased every month since April.