Cape Coral Daily Breeze
Jan. 5, 2018
Community redevelopment agencies (CRAs) have been the subject of increased attention and scrutiny in recent months following the introduction of two bills in the Florida Legislature which would enact strict limitations in an attempt to eventually dissolve these agencies entirely. With an influx of competing information surrounding CRAs, it is important to look at the facts about why CRAs are formed and what they are doing for communities across Florida, including Cape Coral.
CRAs exist to serve communities by revitalizing neglected areas through projects such as streetscape improvements, building renovations and the creation of neighborhood parks. To accomplish this, CRAs use money collected from tax increment funding, which captures tax revenue from property value increases in a designated area – increases that are the result of effective redevelopment. This money is then reinvested back into the area served by the CRA. CRA projects do not receive any federal or state funding whatsoever.
Further, CRAs are held to a high standard of accountability, as well as being subject to public oversight. Each agency is required by law to submit a total of five annual reports detailing its finances, activities and administration. The participation of the public in monthly board meetings allows for additional transparency of the agency and its actions.
CRAs also are a critical component of local job creation. The revamp of prominent areas and essential public amenities attracts major businesses and job providers, which are then encouraged to participate in redevelopment efforts. One way CRAs accomplish this is by creating incentives for businesses in redevelopment areas. For example, the agencies may provide matching grants for business owners to improve the appearance of their building facades, thereby drawing more businesses to the area.