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Photo courtesy: Straz Center for the Performing Arts


House, Senate still apart on money for Straz Center for the Performing Arts

The Senate has on offer $1M, while the House is only conceding $250K.

The House and Senate are still in disagreement over a local funding ask for the Straz Center for the Performing Arts.

The latest committee chair budget offer from the Senate includes $1 million while the House offer includes just $250,000.

Both offers are far less than the Straz Center had been hoping for.

The downtown Tampa performing arts center requested $4 million as a complement to a $4.6 million match from private and local contributions.

The nonprofit is planning a $70 million major renovation.

The proposed funding would help cover project design and engineering for architectural design, planning and engineering and construction for renovations, new community space and other additions to the entire Straz campus.

The proposed project would add three floors to the facility, new dance studios, classrooms, expanded student theater, family spaces, restrooms and faculty and administrative offices.

It would also add a multipurpose pavilion, a north campus welcome center, an optional police substation, two loading bays and traffic calming.

The project would also add new docks along the Tampa Riverwalk behind the facility, among other additions.

The Straz Center, in its appropriations request, says it serves 600,000 residents and visitors annually.

The project, the nonprofit said, would increase student enrollment and event attendance and attract more MainStage and Broadway productions as well as expand community engagement and place-making.

The appropriations request also said the project would increase jobs, tourism and local economic impact.

Budget officials expect negotiations to continue through the weekend with deals settled possibly Saturday, but more likely Sunday.

The budget, once brokered, has a three-day cooling-off period before being finalized ahead of the final hankie drop.

If budget negotiations wrap up on Sunday that would mean a final vote on the budget would not come until Wednesday as lawmakers are not meeting Tuesday because of Florida’s presidential preference primary.

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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