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Iorio budget proposes smaller subsidies for Tampa nonprofits

TAMPA — Mayor Pam Iorio wants to tighten the city purse strings around nonprofit groups this year.

Her proposed 2010 budget reduces subsidies to nonprofit organizations, including the Glazer Children's Museum, the Boys & Girls Club and Humane Society, by 20 percent. City-affiliated groups, such as the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, Lowry Park Zoo and Florida Aquarium will see a 10 percent cut.

"We're trying to be as supportive as we can be in light of the economics we're dealing with," said Santiago Corrada, the city's administrator for neighborhood services. "We really want those entities to be successful because they provide a very important quality-of-life service to the people in our city."

As she prepares next year's budget, Iorio is trying to close a $52 million shortfall. Among other things, she has suggested a pay freeze for union employees that would save $12 million.

Tampa's 2009 budget included more than $5.2 million for nonprofits. The proposed cuts in the 2010 budget would save the city about $479,000.

Iorio is meeting with the groups this week to discuss the cuts, which represent a small portion of the nonprofit budgets.

The Florida Orchestra would take a $64,000 hit. Even with that reduction, the city of Tampa would remain the orchestra's largest source of government funding, said symphony president and CEO Michael Pastreich.

"The mayor has taken her role in the community very seriously," he said. "It's tough times out there."

The Tampa Bay History Center would see a $20,000 reduction in funding under Iorio's plan. Center president C.J. Roberts said the cuts aren't a shock. More surprising was the fact that last year Iorio made no cuts to the nonprofits, he said.

"She's handling things as best she can given the circumstances," he said.

Iorio's budget takes $16,000 away from the Museum of Science and Industry.

"We're not complaining," said museum president Wit Ostrenko. "It doesn't help MOSI at all, but we understand."

Nonprofit groups have seen steady declines in subsidies from state and local governments in recent years. The state sliced its contribution to MOSI last year by 70 percent, Ostrenko said.

Iorio's budget, including the decrease in nonprofit funding, requires approval of the City Council.

Council member Mary Mulhern said there are better ways to trim the budget than targeting arts and cultural organizations. "Those are the things that really need a lifesaver in these tough times because there's nobody else who's going to do it," Mulhern said.

Mulhern said she'd rather cover the deficit with pay cuts for city workers or by dipping into reserve funds.

Janet Zink can be reached at jzink@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3401.

Iorio budget proposes smaller subsidies for Tampa nonprofits 04/14/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 15, 2009 12:05am]
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