Palm Beach Post
March 17, 2019
Last year, a lack of public understanding surrounding Florida’s community redevelopment agencies (CRAs) – combined with some negative publicity and a grab for funding – led some state lawmakers in Tallahassee to believe all of these agencies should be completely eliminated. Thanks to the many residents, business owners and community leaders who called on state lawmakers to protect our CRAs, legislation attacking CRAs during the 2018 legislative session was unsuccessful.
But once again, CRAs are under attack in this year’s legislative session due to lingering misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding them. As executive director of the Boynton Beach CRA, I see the positive impacts of our CRA firsthand; however, there are many questions in the minds of those who don’t work with CRAs every day. How are they authorized? What is involved in their operation? How are they funded?
The facts are that CRAs are guided by Florida Statute 163 Part III and created by local governments to focus much-needed attention into blighted areas of a community – areas that have inadequate infrastructure, insufficient roadways, inadequate parking or a shortage of affordable housing. To address these needs, CRAs implement redevelopment plans that may target funding for streetscape and roadway improvements, building renovations, economic and business development activities, water and sewer improvements, parking lots and garages, neighborhood parks and more. The CRA also can include redevelopment incentives such as grants and loans for new redevelopment projects, façade improvements, interior improvements for businesses, signs and structural improvements.
CRAs do not utilize state or federal dollars and they don’t charge an additional tax to property owners. These agencies receive their funding from tax increment revenue, which captures a portion of existing property tax revenue from property value increases within the CRA District boundaries. These property value increases are the result of effective redevelopment and focused financial reinvestment by the CRA, as well as from the investments made by private sector development.