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VIDEO OF COUNTY HAS A PRICE

The $19,500 film will help Pasco get international exposure, officials say.

Over the past year, Pasco County has been a steady customer for one Washington, D.C.-based consultant, paying it $323,240 to help revamp the county's budget, streamline operations and study the fire-rescue department.

Now, the International City/County Management Association wants to show off Pasco and 14 other local governments from around the country in five-minute films to air at the consultant's California convention in October.

But the honor comes with a hitch: a $19,500 price tag.

That's a drop in the bucket for a county with an overall budget of $951 million. But in another tight budget year, when the mantra is "every penny counts," how would the film idea go over with officials?

Just fine. Commissioners last week approved the project with little discussion.

Half of the cost will come from the county's tourist tax fund, which can be used only for tourism-related purposes. The other half will come from the Pasco Economic Development Council, the private agency that received $430,500 in county funding this year.

County administrators say it is an opportunity to get Pasco's name out to thousands of conventioneers, plus to have in hand a video that could be shown to prospective businesses.

"Most businesses that ultimately make a decision to relocate their companies, the principal owner has visited," said Chief Assistant County Administrator Michele Baker. "It's all about building those connections and telling the story."

Commissioner Michael Cox agreed: "I think it's going to be professionally done. It's going to be a way for us to brand and market the county. I think it's an appropriate use of tourism dollars."

ICMATV will spend one day filming in Pasco County and produce a spot that will last up to five minutes. The piece will focus on Pasco's streamlining efforts and strategic planning process, which ICMA was hired to help the county work on.

The film will be broadcast to attendees on a network of plasma screens throughout the conference and on a dedicated television channel in delegates' hotel bedrooms, according to the order form approved by commissioners.

As part of the deal, Pasco gets five burned DVD copies, plus use of any unused footage.

ICMA's convention is expected to attract 7,000 international delegates, mostly government representatives, which raises a question: Do other government officials count as potential tourists?

"They could be tourists," said Baker. "How do you get international exposure? This is how you get international exposure. If we are truly focused on getting jobs here, we've got to be telling people our stories."

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

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