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St. Petersburg's plan for tax district moves forward

Published March 1, 2005

CLEARWATER -- The future of the Mahaffey Theater and the Pier became a bit brighter Tuesday after county commissioners signaled support for funding massive improvements to the aging facilities and other downtown St. Petersburg projects.

Despite a few tense moments, the Pinellas County Commission unanimously voted to schedule a public hearing and vote for April 5 on extending a special tax district in downtown St. Petersburg.

City leaders were relieved after the two-hour discussion that capped about two months of intense behind-the-scenes lobbying. They presented commissioners with a letter signed by mayors of 16 other Pinellas County cities supporting the request.

Over the next month St. Petersburg city officials will negotiate details of the district and financing terms with the county before a final commission vote.

"I think there's a growing consensus these are projects that need be done," St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker said. "We're in pretty good shape."

The city has asked the county to keep a special tax district to fund $95-million in downtown projects during the next 30 years.

[Last modified March 1, 2005, 19:26:02]

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