Sarasota News Leader

02/14/2014

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But how can you accurately measure how much in tax revenue is generated by one facility? That's the question Rissler and the commission struggled with late last year. This week's contract changes should make the county's goal much easier to hit. Rather than being responsible for generating $25 million in "direct" sales tax revenue (i.e. tax revenue specific to events at the facility and nearby spending), the county can now also include "indirect" sales tax revenue in its accounting. What the heck is indirect sales tax revenue? Blackketter tells The Sarasota News Leader one example would be when a team comes to train in another Florida facility because of its proximity to Benderson Park. "We're hav- ing a statewide impact on rowing facilities," he says. The new language allows the county to insert all those statewide numbers into its metrics. According to Blackketter, the changes bring the contract in line with other economic devel- opment agreements the state has entered into, such as the $2.3 million appropriation for Bradenton's IMG Academy approved last year. The contract now also clarifies how much the county is on the hook to pay back. One of the questions raised last year: What would hap- pen if the park generated $20 million in tax money? Would Sarasota still be responsible for returning the full $5 million? Perhaps not now. The contract says repay- ment could be on a "pro-rata basis" if the governor approves. So if the project gets 80 percent of the way to $25 million, the county would be responsible only for paying back 20 percent of the state's investment. All very positive developments, according to Blackketter. He calls the changes "huge." % Tents dot Benderson Park during the inaugural Head Regatta in November 2013. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader February 14, 2014 Page 49

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