Tasked with weighing in on the future of Sarasota’s Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency, an advisory board will recommend a 30-year extension of the CRA to the city and county next month.
The Downtown CRA Extension Committee has worked for the past nine months at the behest of the city and county to provide insight on whether the program should be continued. The Downtown CRA takes tax revenue from the heart of the city and reinvests it in public and public/private projects, such as the Whole Foods complex.
With the downtown CRA scheduled to sunset in 2016, the County Commission and City Commission will meet April 1 to discuss whether to renew it. Chris Gallagher, vice chair of the extension committee, has met with city staff over the past several weeks to finalize the group’s presentation to the commissioners.
The primary recommendation, which was unanimous, is to extend the CRA for an additional 30 years. The committee gave two reasons: first, the group feels the CRA has been effective in invigorating the downtown area, and second, the group feels there are areas governed by the CRA that are still blighted and in need of assistance.
Other recommendations in the draft presentation include:
• Shared governance of the CRA. Currently, the Community Redevelopment Agency board consists of the Sarasota City Commission. The committee recommends a seven-member board with two city commissioners, two county commissioners and three citizens appointed by the city.
• Possible modification of the current CRA boundaries.
• A shared split of the current CRA funds, so that some of the money goes toward the city and county general funds.
• Granting the CRA board the power to guide the allowable uses of the organization’s funds.
For more information about the CRA extension committee’s work, pick up a copy of Thursday’s Sarasota Observer.
Contact David Conway at [email protected].