SARASOTA COUNTY, Florida - MTV's new series, "Siesta Key," hasn't received the best headlines lately, but that won't stop it from receiving county tax dollars under an incentive program available to locally-produced films, commercials, and television shows.
The Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Office tells 10News it expects executive producers for Siesta Key, including famed businessman Dr. Gary Kompothecras, to submit an application for reimbursement for some of its expenses incurred locally during production.
Producers are eligible for rebates on 20 percent of their expenses within Sarasota County, up to $25,000. The series could have requested more, up to $25,000 per each of its 10 episodes, had it requested the higher number prior to shooting.
"(Producers) spend all (their) money first, then get a percentage of it back, based on the gross spending," said Sarasota County Film & Entertainment Director Jeanne Corcoran, who added the county cannot deny a show's application based on content, as long as it is not rated higher than "R."
"Return on investment (to the county) is huge," Corcoran continued.
But several residents interviewed by 10News said they didn't think taxpayers should be subsidizing an MTV production.
"What a stupid idea," said Joanne Sensabaugh, who was shopping in Sarasota Tuesday. "The taxpayers (are paying) to show off Siesta Key in a way that may not be too nice.”
In addition to concern about the show's party-themed content, many residents have panned the negative press the executive producer's son and star of the show, Alex Kompothecras, has drawn for his connection to a pair of videos allegedly showing animal abuse.
Florida's Fish & Wildlife Commission is investigating the star's role in an incident involving the on-camera fatal shooting of a shark, as well as the video of boaters dragging and mutilating a shark, reported to involve friends of the Kompothecras.
If the series continues with its plan to seek county rebates, the county commission still needs to sign off on it. Last fall, the county dedicated $213,000 to film and television incentives, hoping to support the industry locally.
A spokesman for Gary Kompothecras said producers would be making no comment at this time.
Siesta Key was again named the No. 1 beach in America by several national outlets in 2017.
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