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City wants to cash in on corporate sponsorships

Cleawater commissioners might allow a corporate titan such as Coke or Pepsi to splash its name and products around the city for about $5-million.

Wanted: corporate sugar daddies with plenty of cash.

Several city commissioners on Thursday said the city should search for corporate sponsorships from companies such as Coca-Cola or Bank of America to bring in new revenues. A scheduled vote on the question had not yet been made late Thursday evening.

The first possible deal would focus on attracting a soft drink giant such as Coca-Cola to sponsor city events, provide sports scoreboards and place vending machines throughout public parks, facilities and city beaches.

In exchange, Clearwater officials want payments of up to $5-million over 10 years.

The commission on Thursday considered hiring a California company called Public Enterprise Group to negotiate such "public-private partnerships" in the next six months. Commissioners had previously debated and tabled the idea this spring.

Commissioner Ed Hooper and Mayor Brian Aungst said this week that they hope such partnerships can generate money to pay for more city firefighters _ without raising city taxes.

But Commissioners J.B. Johnson and Ed Hart complained that the city is shirking its responsibility to fund important needs such as fire resources.

Hart said the deal could be perceived as "selling out" to a vendor.

Commissioner Bob Clark said changes would have to be made to the agreement to hire Public Enterprise Group before he would support the deal.

The changes happened behind the scenes this week, said Garry Brumback, who coordinates a city strategic planning program.

Under the proposed deal, Public Enterprise Group would earn a commission of up to $425,000 for putting together such an agreement.

The company would take 12 percent of the value of cash revenues generated by partnership deals and payments equaling 5 percent of the value of any donated goods or services provided by sponsor companies.

Public Enterprise Group, which has arranged deals for towns in California, would be paid for its expenses up to $12,000.

Originally, the city was to pay the company up to $40,000. But Clark complained that because of high commissions possible from deals in the future, a large fee should not be paid up front.

In addition to becoming an official city of Coke or Pepsi, the city could also look for sponsorship deals from credit card companies, airlines or automated teller machine companies. The City Commission will have to give final approval to any deals that are proposed later this year.

Condo rental limits, other

code revisions postponed

The Clearwater City Commission on Thursday postponed making any decisions on a gaggle of proposed revisions to its land development rules due to a packed agenda dominated by complicated issues about downtown redevelopment.

Among other changes, the rules being considered would limit rentals of houses and condos, restrict the use of portable storage units, ban parking cars on front lawns and create new safety regulations for swimming pool fences.

The commission scheduled a preliminary vote on the proposals June 1, with final approval on June 15.