Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice wants to see more details about the proposed tax subsidies for a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark before he commits to voting for it, he said Tuesday on WMNF WaveMakers with Janet and Tom.
The Rays want hundreds of millions of dollars in tax subsidies to build a $1.3 billion ballpark in downtown St. Petersburg, including $300 million from Pinellas County. Justice said he would only support using tourist tax dollars collected by Pinellas hotels to fund the project, not property taxes.
He said he believes that such sports complexes provide an economic benefit, though he acknowledged that most economists say it is not a one-to-one return on the investment.
It is encouraging after years of general discussions to have a specific framework for a possible deal, Justice said.
“I support the framework,” he said. “I still want to see some more details on some of the funding.”
Pinellas County also uses tourist development tax dollars to pay to renourish the beaches, and may have to spend more than in previous years because of a dispute between the federal government and private property owners on sand key who do not want to sign waivers, giving the government access to the land.
Justice said he is hopeful that a solution will be found but says it may require more like local tax dollars. The beaches are a vital part of the tours of economy, and also provide protection from storms.
The good news, he said, is there is sufficient tourist tax money to fund both the Pinellas County portion of the Rays stadium and beach renourisment.
Hear the entire conversation by clicking the link below, going to the WaveMakers archives or by searching for WMNF WaveMakers wherever you listen to podcasts.