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Dunedin to debate uses for extra sales tax revenue

The city has $1-million to spend from the its portion of the countywide 1-cent sales tax addition, and commissioners will discuss at a workshop tonight what to do with the money. Projects suggested by two advisory committees include replacing 50,000 feet of leaky, 40-year-old pipes; redesigning parking spaces on Main Street and buying five acres for a site for a trash recycling facility.

Voters approved a countywide penny tax increase last November. Officials said the city's share from the 10 years of the tax increment should total $23-million.

Commissioner Tom Anderson said the money this year should be spent for water, sewer and drainage projects. He said spending $300,000 on land for recycling waste would be breaking a promise to voters.

"We've got over 300 (city-owned) acres in the city right now. I don't see why we need to purchase any more land," Anderson said Wednesday. "Our comprehensive plan put highest priority on water, sewer and drainage."

Commissioners also will discuss how to spend $600,000 in sales tax money set aside for a new water treatment plant. The lowest construction bid for the facility was $10-million, $2.5-million lower than expected, and Public Works and Utilities Director Bob Brotherton said the money could be used to pay off the debt to renovate Dunedin Stadium.

"Retirement of the debt is more important," he said. "I know how it affects the budget. I know how it affects taxes."

Mayor Manuel Koutsourais said the money should be kept in a reserve fund in case the building of the plant ran into problems. Commissioner Paul Braun said the stadium should pay for itself out of parking, concession and ticket sales.

Money from the sales tax also could buy three acres of waterfront property along Bayshore Boulevard for a park, said City Manager John Lawrence.

"The priority list was water, storm water, waste water and effluent," Koutsourais said. "Recreational property was not a top priority."