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ORLANDO-If hotel and motel room tax collections are a barometer of the area’s hospitality industry’s health, Orange County is off to a robust beginning in its new fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Tax revenue for the month totaled nearly $9.7 million, the highest amount the county has collected for an October month since the tax started in 1979.

The nearly $9.7 million was 13.7% over the $8.5 million collected in October 2003. “A nice way to start the new fiscal year,” notes county comptroller Martha Haynie. Her office had budgeted approximately $8.7 million in projected revenue for October. The final number was 11.3% over budget.

Orange County finished its last fiscal year Sept. 30 by posting a record $111 million in room tax collections, up 19% from $93.3 million in 2003. The previous high was $108.2 million in fiscal 2000. September collections totaled $8.1 million, up 30% over September 2003.

The monthly tax collection numbers are watched by hospitality industry consultants, real estate developers and hotel investors as a barometer of the area’s tourist market’s health. The bulk of the revenue is used to promote the tourist market and to pay off bond issues on the four-million-sf Orange County Convention Center, second largest in the US.

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