Pinellas County's tourism promotion department faces a $3.5 million budget cut for the coming year that could stop funding for high-profile sports events. A proposed budget would scrap promotional contracts the agency has with the Tampa Bay Rays ($300,000), the Honda Grand Prix ($250,000), the St. Petersburg Bowl ($175,000), the Outback Bowl ($110,000) and the Ironman triathlon ($100,000). Also on the chopping block are $500,000 in marketing grants for cultural events and $609,000 for local special events. The department is funded by revenue from the county's 5 percent lodging tax. Proceeds have dropped along with the number of visitors to the county. "When the dollars were flowing (the promotional deals) were frosting on the cake,'' said tourism director D.T. Minich. "Now, we're down to where all we have is the cake.'' The Pinellas Tourist Development Council, which oversees how tax proceeds are spent, will meet Monday to hammer out the department budget for the fiscal year beginning next Oct. 1.
Pinellas County tourism promotion budget faces $3.5M cut
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