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Hope survives for county help pay for Dali Museum addition

The Salvador Dali Museum needs more than $5 million to finish a major expansion. While the county Tourist Development Council closed one door to helping in the effort, another may be opening. A decision may come as soon as next month. 

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

The Salvador Dali Museum needs more than $5 million to finish a major expansion. While the county Tourist Development Council closed one door to helping in the effort, another may be opening. A decision may come as soon as next month. 

Supporters of the Salvador Dali Museum had renewed hopes Wednesday that Pinellas County would help cover a $5 million-plus shortfall to complete the new building by January.

The county's Tourist Development Council, or TDC, voted 6-5 not to change its rules to allow spending revenues from the county's hotel "bed tax" on construction of museums owned and run by nonprofit groups.

But members then discussed giving the museum money for marketing, which might let Dali officials shift funds to pay construction costs. A TDC subcommittee will take up the proposal next month.

St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster told panel members the city would come up with $2.5 million from the Intown Redevelopment Area taxing district for the Dali if they matched the amount.

"The Dali is unparalleled; there's nothing like it in the city, the county, the state or the country,'' he said. "It has a multimillion-dollar impact … a regional impact.''

Fundraising for the $36 million museum on the downtown waterfront fell short by between $5.5 million and $6 million, said museum director Hank Hine. The structure will nearly double the size of the current museum, which houses the largest collection of works by the Spanish surrealist outside Spain.

Four lodging executives on the TDC voted against changing the county's tourist development plan to add museum construction as a legal use for bed tax money. Tony Satterfield of the Alden Beach Resort in St. Pete Beach said the tax was meant for advertising Pinellas to bring more tourists.

Portions of the 5 percent tax on lodging already pay debt service on Tropicana Field and spring training stadiums in Clearwater and Dunedin. Opponents worried about creating new uses that would drain more money from marketing efforts.

But some voiced interest in giving the Dali money for marketing without opening the door for other groups to ask for construction funds.

"I think the idea is getting kicked around by some members who might be okay with it,'' said County Commission Chairwoman Karen Seel, who supports funding the museum with bed tax revenue.

Hope survives for county help pay for Dali Museum addition 06/09/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 10:17pm]
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