Siesta resident Mike Holderness also an applicant for position Mathes won
On a unanimous vote this week, the Sarasota County commissioners appointed Todd Mathes, director of development for Benderson Development Co., and Lynn Hobeck Bates, who handles marketing and communications for The Ringling museum in Sarasota, to the county’s Tourist Advisory Council (TDC).
Commissioner Michael Moran made the nominations during the board’s regular meeting on Oct. 24 in Sarasota.
Hobeck Bates was the only applicant for a seat set aside for a representative of the tourism industry. However, one other person had applied for the seat Mathes won, which is for a person involved with a company that collects the county’s Tourist Development Tax (TDT) — or “bed tax.” The other applicant for the latter seat was Michael Holderness of Siesta Key, part owner of the Siesta Key Beach Resort and Suites in Siesta Village and principal of Beachside Management.
The 6% Tourist Development Tax is charged on accommodations rented for six months or less time in the county. The resulting revenue pays for a variety of initiatives, including beach maintenance, upkeep of the county’s two Major League Baseball stadiums and promotion of the county to visitors. Funds also are allocated to the Cities of Sarasota and Venice, as well as the Town of Longboat Key, for beach renourishment.
No nomination was put forth for Holderness on Oct. 24. In recent years, Holderness has been involved in land-dispute resolution issues, legal complaints and Code Enforcement action involving the county.
Kim Radtke, director of the Office of Financial Management, told the commissioners that all three applicants had been deemed qualified for the TDC seats.
The terms of both Hobeck Bates and Mathes will end on Oct. 31, 2027, a county staff memo said.
As its webpage points out, the Tourist Development Council (TDC) is responsible for recommending tourism policy to the County Commission and overseeing the use of the Tourist Development tax revenue, “pursuant to Florida law.” The webpage adds, “The TDC discusses factors affecting tourist development, local culture, and beach maintenance and restoration, as well as the needs of the tourist industry.”
The advisory board has 13 members, including a representative of the County Commission, who chairs it. Commissioner Joe Neunder agreed to take that position after the passing in April of Commissioner Nancy Detert, who had succeeded former Commissioner Charles Hines as chair.
Representatives from each of the county’s municipalities also serve on the TDC.
In his application for the appointment, Mathes responded as follows to the question, “Why do you want to serve on this advisory council?”: “I am very involved in tourist development activity personally and professionally.”
He wrote that he has been with Benderson Development since 2011 and that he not only holds a Bachelor of Science from the College of Environmental Science and Forestry at Syracuse University but also a law degree from the Albany Law School.
Mathes did acknowledge on the form that Benderson “has various contractual and permit/agency relationships with Sarasota County.”
He most recently appeared before the County Commission in late September during the public hearing on modifications to the site of the mixed-use Siesta Promenade development. The majority of the commissioners approved the plans.
In reply to the question about why she wanted to serve on the TDC, Hobeck Bates wrote, “I aim to serve as an advocate for the destination and tourism industry in Sarasota County. The industry, from its people to its positive economic impact, is the underpinning of our community. I’d like to help guide the industry to ensure tourism remains a vital
and viable industry — one that continues to be a positive economic engine and driver for Sarasota County.”
Hobeck Bates added of her background, “My nearly 20-year professional career spans various sectors of the tourism industry in Sarasota County. I’ve worked in a wide spectrum of tourism-related roles, from serving at a restaurant upon moving to Florida as a young graduate, to working in marketing and public relations roles in arts and cultural institutions, sports tourism and most notably at Visit Sarasota County. This breadth of experience gives me an unparalleled vantage point for understanding the many benefits of sustaining a healthy tourism industry. I bring a keen knowledge of both bed tax generation through strategic marketing to allocating and utilizing bed tax revenues through grants for cultural arts, sports tourism, and continued destination marketing and improved tourism infrastructure. I’m also well-aware of the complex factors influencing our tourism industry and economy, from socioeconomic to geopolitical to environmental, and will work to ensure these are assets, not barriers to prosperity.
“Over the years,” she continued, “I’ve stayed up-to-date on issues related to the industry both on a local, regional, state, national and international level through participation in industry organizations such as Visit Florida and various organizations.”
She earned a master’s degree in education from Vanderbilt University and a Bachelor of Science from James Madison University, she added.
In his application, Holderness wrote the following about why he wanted to serve on the TDC: “I hope to advocate for policies that promote sustainable development, environmental protection, and responsible tourism in Sarasota County.
“I also want to continue to promote Sarasota County as a prime destination for responsible and ecofriendly tourism. Highlight the natural beauty and conservation efforts of the area to attract like-minded visitors.”
Holderness noted that he is a third-generation Realtor on Siesta Key, as well as the founder and CEO of Beachside Management, which — he pointed out — “collects at least $1 million in [Tourist Development Tax] funds for the county with an overall economic impact of $50 million for Sarasota County.”
Further, he wrote, “Through my work on Siesta Key, many have come to rely upon my expertise and advice concerning beach management, beach renourishment, sea turtle protection, and water quality.”