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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Norm Roche proposal would pay for Dali, not Rays stadium

29

November

Pinellas County Commissioner Norm Roche has written a counter proposal for extending the tourist tax on hotel stays that keeps money for the Salvador Dali Museum construction -- but appears to scrap setting aside the tax money for a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays.

The fourth and fifth cents of the tax expire after 2015, when debt for Tropicana Field is paid off. The current proposed ordinance extends them, setting aside most of the fourth cent for stadium construction and using the fifth cent for tourism and marketing.

Roche's proposal reconfigures the proposed uses of the tax. The uses for the fifth cent essentially become the fourth cent, and the county would extend the final portion of the tax for a year at a 1/2 cent instead for the Dali. Afterward, the tax goes "dormant" until the County Commission decides to start collecting it again for a specific project.

Roche didn't immediately return a message seeking comment. He has a meeting Monday afternoon with County Attorney Jim Bennett to discuss how his measure would work. If it goes forward, Roche would offer the change at a meeting Tuesday.

"There is a way to accomplish what he wants to do, and it would be the same end result. The uses would have change," said chief assistant county attorney Dennis Long on Monday.

The proposal comes after heavy lobbying by Dali supporters, who want $2.5 million to help pay for the costs of construction. But the proposal to reserve money for a ballpark stirred opposition from people opposed to a new stadium as well as tax opponents. Supporters have countered with their own efforts, including a recent letter to County Commissioners from Tradewinds resort president Tim Bogott.

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[Last modified: Monday, November 29, 2010 3:28pm]

    

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