CRA Board Selects Interim Director
By Suzie Schottelkotte
BARTOW | Bartow’s Community Redevelopment Agency board agreed Monday to hire Andy Laurent of Bartow Consulting Inc. as interim director while board members and the City Commission continue discussing the agency’s future structure.
Laurent, a former Bartow city commissioner, said he and Brian Hinton, another former commissioner, will partner as directors, but Laurent will bear the primary responsibility.
Historically, the agency’s executive director has reported solely to the CRA’s seven-member board of directors, which are appointed by the City Commission.
But city commissioners are leaning toward having the director report to City Manager George Long.
“We could make the executive director’s position be more akin to a department head,” Commissioner James Clements said during a recent workshop. “That might be a way to give us more control of the CRA.”
Commissioners talked about disbanding the existing CRA board and taking over that responsibility themselves, but a majority agreed during last week’s workshop to keep the independent board in place. Those seven members either live or work within the CRA’s district, giving them a vested interest in the agency’s activities.
The CRA initiates programs that promote redevelopment within the agency’s districts, which in turn increases the taxable value of those blighted property. Bartow has four districts: downtown, North Broadway Avenue commercial district, West Bartow and East Bartow. A portion of the property taxes paid in those districts is channeled to the CRA, which operates on an annual budget totaling about $700,000.