County May Let Tourists Pay for Their Own Cops

Proposal would use hotel tax dollars for snowbird police

If the fine people who visit the fair city of Miami need special police protection, it only makes sense that they pay for it. That's the not unreasonable logic behind the county's proposal to use hotel tax dollars to fund patrolling of popular tourist spots.

''Those dollars can't be used to for affordable housing, education or other government services,'' wrote county Mayor Carlos Alvarez in a January public letter. "We've got the money … Let's not shove it under a mattress.''

Not surprisingly, the hotel lobbies are aghast, citing state laws that traditionally limit the use of such funds to promoting tourism and paying for baseball stadiums and other public venues.

Miami-Dade's tourism bureau president William Talbert III bemoans the already dwindling coffers, which is struggling with a 9-percent drop in tax revenues.

''The timing could not be worse right now,'' Talbert told the Miami Herald. "Scarce promotional dollars are decreasing.''

It would seem that "The Cops Will Keep You Safe" would make a pretty good promotion.

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