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New Port Richey hands downtown group $15,000

(ran PW, PS editions)

The city had cut off the non-profit, but now is offering money to help it.

The Community Redevelopment Agency voted 3-2 Tuesday night to give $15,000 to help prop up the New Port Richey Community Cooperative, a non-profit downtown promotion group that the City Council had pulled all funding from.

The money will help pay salaries, telephone expenses and other day-to-day expenses to keep the cooperative in business. The $15,000 is separate from other "special event" money the city might give the group to help with its downtown activities. Discussion about the cooperative's "special event" funding was still going on late Tuesday night.

Mayor Wendy Brenner and Deputy Mayor Ginny Miller both voted against giving the cooperative the $15,000 grant, citing the group's previous inability to put together profitable downtown events. The group, in fact, has yet to repay a $5,000 loan the city gave last year.

"I'm not going along with it tonight," Miller said.

Council members said that they hoped new leadership at the cooperative would help the group get on track. Other council members wanted city officials to strengthen their communication with the cooperative to ensure it and the city are working together.

"Your decision tonight will really aid us in putting events together for the rest of the year," said Laura Turner, the cooperative's new executive director.

Since the city and the cooperative broke formal ties last year, the council has been reluctant to give the group money, although it allows the cooperative to use city office space and equipment.

_ Kent Fischer can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6241 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6241. His e-mail address is kfischersptimes.com.

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