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Robinson zeroed in on the increment. "Some of these numbers here are large," she said. "Three hundred fifty million dollars out to 2048." Assistant County Administrator Mark Cunningham noted, "And that's just the coun- ty's contribution." In other words, should the CRA be extended another 30 years, the county will see more than one-third of a billion dollars in county tax revenue stay in downtown Sarasota. "That's a lot of money," said Patterson. "When I look at the request to extend the CRA, I'm a lot less enthusiastic. What's the biggest need for it? There is investment in the [proposed] cultural district, which will take huge dollars that otherwise the city and county could not raise. But by no stretch of the imagination can you call the Van Wezel [Performing Arts Hall] parking lot slum and blight." County Commissioner Joe Barbetta told his colleagues he did not need any convincing. "We have to decide if we want to extend it, and I certainly do. And then we decide on the allowable uses, and there are plenty of them. With the right kind of vision, we can get a lot accomplished. Great cities make great counties." Patterson was not convinced. "In the end, the CRA is a shell game because it transfers money to an area that could be used for proj- ects all over the county," she said. "This will be echoed by the Englewood CRA seeking an extension, and Venice and North Port, that asked years ago [for CRAs]. If you cut these holes in the fabric of the county, it seems like at some point you have to raise taxes to make up the difference." City Commissioner Suzanne Atwell then noted that Venice City Vice Mayor Emilio Carlesimo was in the audience, paying close attention. Both commissions voted unanimously to "accept the report." The committee was thanked for its efforts and then disbanded. % The plan for a cultural district between the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall and U.S. 41 has been revived, a possible recipient of future Downtown Sarasota Community Redevelopment Agency funding. Photo by Norman Schimmel Sarasota News Leader April 4, 2014 Page 38

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