NEW PORT RICHEY — The city has slashed funding to the Pasco Economic Development Council and charged its new economic development manager with working to market the city and ignite the local economy.
During a meeting Tuesday, the city council voted to cut a $66,000 contract with the EDC down to $14,450 and turn over most of the duties in the contract to new Economic Development Manager Mario Iezzoni.
Council member Chopper Davis, who has been critical of the EDC, said the county agency "performed well in submitting bills to the city" but fell short in reporting on its performance.
"I would like to see them report more consistently to our staff," Davis said.
The city council voted 4-0 to continue funding the EDC in order to keep a seat on the board of directors. Council member Judy Debella Thomas was not in attendance but in the past opposed a contract with the EDC believing the city should be doing its own marketing.
"I think we need a seat at that table," Deputy Mayor Bill Phillips said of staying on the EDC board.
Iezzoni said he was pleased with the decision. Initially the council had wanted to see what it would cost for just a membership with the EDC. But at $10,000 for that, it worked better for the city to hire the EDC for some services, Iezzoni said.
"I think it's incredibly important to keep working with them," Iezonni told the Times. "They are a tremendous resource."
The EDC will continue to provide services for economic development in the downtown area and in what is known as the Grand/Marine District, the heart of which is the former Community Hospital on Grand Boulevard which remains mostly vacant.
Downtown, the EDC will be focused on helping the city market and find developers and tenants for vacant storefronts and key properties such as the historic Hacienda Hotel.
"We are really looking forward to continuing working with the city," said EDC Vice President John Walsh. "It's a great place that has a lot of offer the community."