Mayor Bill Shearon and partner Tjet Martin reside at Linger Longer, a beachfront vacation accommodation with three rental units. Islander Courtesy Photo
According to a recent complaint to the city, Bradenton Beach Mayor Bill Shearon and his partner Tjet Martin may be operating their vacation resort without all the needed licensing.
Robert Lincoln, attorney representing ELRA Inc., Ed Chiles’ BeacHhouse Restaurant corporate entity, filed a complaint June 19 with the state regulatory agency — the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations — alleging Shearon and Martin have been operating Linger Longer, 302 Gulf Drive, without a state-mandated public lodging license.
An ensuing investigation conducted by the DBPR-Division of Hotels and Restaurants revealed that Shearon was operating without a license and required Shearon to apply for his lodging license within 60 days. The case was rated “high priority” by the division.
Shearon said he has since applied for the license.
A lodging license may cost anywhere from $205 to $250, according to the DBPR and, if an establishment is not in compliance, the operators of the business could be fined.
On June 20, Lincoln sent a letter of notification to the city. In the letter, Lincoln cites Florida Statutes and he highlighted a passage in his letter that states: “Operating a transient rental property without a state lodging license is a second-degree misdemeanor and state law provides for the immediate arrest of a violator.”
Shearon said he has operated the business for 11 years and has always tried to do the right thing when it came to his taxes. “I just didn’t know,” he said.
Code enforcement officer Gail Garneau filed a report in response to the complaint that showed Shearon and Martin are in the process of obtaining the required state lodging license.
The couple reside at Linger Longer and rent out the remaining units to vacationers.
Martin is running for the Ward 4 commission seat against incumbent Commissioner Jan Vosburgh. She also serves on the city’s scenic waves committee.
Shearon said part of the problem was a change in state law, HB 883, which requires vacation rental operators to have state licensing in hand before they can receive a business tax receipt from the city.
The city already is in the process of adding that requirement to the business tax application and renewal forms, Shearon said.
Shearon said adding language to the forms requiring vacation rental businesses to provide a state license number before receiving a city business tax receipt will solve a lot of problems.
“This was actually a blessing in disguise,” Shearon said. “There are a lot of people out there who are doing the same thing and we need to fix it on a city level.”