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funding diversion proposed in a staff graphic. That number might be reduced as a result of public comments, commissioners noted. If the change goes through, as much as 3.5 percent of the marketing funding could go toward new projects intended to draw more visitors to the community, based on calcula- tions presented to the commission by staff in the county's Office of Financial Management. "I am leaning towards having this poten- tial money to build things or have it as seed money," Chairman Charles Hines said. Tourism boosters protested the change. On Friday, hoteliers, restaurateurs, Realtors and representatives from marketing firms took to the podium during the "open to the public" portions of the meeting to protest any cuts to promotional funding, which they said could result in decreased tourism-related activity in the area and, therefore, a negative economic impact. Michael Klauber, well-known co-owner of Michael's On East — who also is chairman of the board of the county's tourism office, Visit Sarasota County — was among those who spoke. "I believe the growth in our market share [of tourism] is a result of Visit Sarasota's marketing growth," Klauber told the commissioners. He suggested the board take excess revenue from the stadium fund instead, leaving the promotional funding allocation as it is. Other tourism supporters pointed out that the share of TDT revenue Sarasota County spends on promotional efforts is lower than the amounts similar counties spend on mar- keting and advertising. Commissioner Nora Patterson argued against taking promotional money from Visit Sarasota County. Photo by Norman Schimmel` Sarasota News Leader May 23, 2014 Page 17

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