How Bay County, FL is Improving Outreach to Short-Term Rental Operators

Watch this video to hear how the county uses notification tools to address tax collection and short-term rental property identification challenges.

I’m with Bay County, Florida, and the seat of our county government’s in Panama City, Florida, but our big economy is gonna be out on the Panama City Beach. We’re in the Panhandle, Florida. Our office currently has a staff of four, and we are tasked with the collection and enforcement of the tourist development tax.

The sheer magnitude of the market that’s established out on the beach and continues to grow in some of our smaller communities has always presented its own challenge because for every four that we find, there’s going to be one that is either uneducated on the taxes that they’re meant to contribute to or directly attempting to evade.

One of the biggest tasks that we have in our department is attempting to find those and bring that additional collection in. And so being able to find specific properties that are active in the market, but not registered with our department, was a very high priority.

We find frequently that the biggest issue that we run into is outreach, education, making the public aware of us. The way that GovOS was effective in the outreach task was because we were able to locate these unregistered properties, we were able to deliver a case-specific letter or even find a phone number associated with a property and reach out to those people directly. GovOS was able to demonstrate a high degree of accuracy in their research.

Frequently, we had found that just general outreach with a generalized form letter was sort of effective. But if we can reach out to these people and let them know, “Hey, we see that you’re active within our community. How can we help you get registered?” That’s instant!

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