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DESTIN — Because of the coronavirus outbreak and a recent governor-issued order, the city will extend the due date of its annual short-term rental registration fees.
Last Friday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order that suspended vacation rental operations for at least 14 days, according to Destin City Manager Lance Johnson.
RELATED: Florida coronavirus update: DeSantis issues statewide stay-at-home order
The order prevents the owners/operators of vacation rental properties from accepting new reservations and guests during the suspension period. The period could be extended via a subsequent executive order.
RELATED: What is considered ‘essential’ in Gov. DeSantis’ stay-at-home order?
To help mitigate the order’s impact to vacation rental properties in Destin, the city will extend the due date of its annual short-term rental registration fees from March 31 to May 31, the City Council agreed at a special meeting Wednesday.
The fee is $500 for each short-term rental property that is 2,499 or fewer square feet, $600 for each one that is 2,500 to 4,999 square feet and $700 for each one that is 5,000 or more square feet, according to city information.
The council on Wednesday also approved paying $94,508 to Government Services Group Inc., of Tallahassee, to manage Destin’s finance department from March 23 through June.
On March 10, the city had entered into a short-term agreement with the company to provide critical operational assistance to the city through March 20 at a not-to-exceed amount of $14,900.
The company first began working for the city following the resignation of city Finance Director Bragg Farmer. Farmer, who had served as finance director since October 2006, resigned March 9 immediately after meeting with Johnson.
Johnson has declined to publicly say why Farmer resigned.
Besides managing the city finance department, Government Services Group will help the city find a new permanent finance director.
Councilmen Skip Overdier and Steve Menchel practiced social distancing and participated in Wednesday’s meeting via video feeds, rather than attending the session in person.
At the start of the meeting, Mayor Gary Jarvis explained that Overdier and Menchel were “following the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended guidelines and they are not participating up here at the dais because they fall in the high-risk category due to their age, even though they’re both robust and healthy gentlemen.”