Sarasota County commissioners voted to spend $79,200 to pay for the sanction fees to bolster funding for the 2013 Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix during an April 9 meeting.
Commissioner Joe Barbetta quickly moved to provide the funds from tourist taxes after Commissioner Charles Hines broached the subject during commission and committee reports. It amends a previous motion that earmarked $10,000 from the General Fund.
“I still agree with my previous position that was (funding) shouldn’t come out of our General Fund,” Hines said. “But I find it ironic that looking our annual report for 2012,” and in the economic development section there’s a picture of an offshore boat.
Commissioner Christine Robinson tacked on another amendment that guarantees funding for sanction fees for the event in the next budget, but precludes Suncoast Charities for Children from seeking any additional funding outside of competitive grants.
The decision underscores a push by Barbetta for the county to put more emphasis on sports tourism — and attaining major sporting events — as an economic development tool.
“We just don’t allocate enough money toward sports tourism,” Barbetta said.
Commissioners were hesitant to fulfill a $100,000 funding request from Suncoast Charities for Children at a March 19 meeting, with concerns about other organizations making lofty requests. Commissioners eventually settled on $10,000 from the General Fund and $3,500 of in-kind contributions.
“This is going to be a special exception but it certainly won’t be the rule for this commissioner,” Robinson said.