LARGO -- Praise and pity the Largo City Commission.
When one sees what the members had to wade through for Tueday's work session meeting they truly earn the $391.79 they earn per meeting ($518.21 in the case of the mayor).
The bureaucracy throws at the elected officials enough arcane jargon that represents bafflement and the old now you see it now you don't routine leaves one hard pressed to know which end is up.
Witness -- "The West Bay Drive Community Redevelopment plan was adopted in 1997 and the Largo City Commission was designated as the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) with for the administration of redevelopment activities related to tax increment financing."
And what is this "tax increment financing" that has insinuated itself into the formua? The word "tax" itself is guaranteed to make all ears suddenly open and become receptive. Projected revenue, according to a graph accompanying the presentation, forecasts a total accumulation of revenue of $4,453,498 in six years.
This is what "tax increment financing" is -- "a financing tool for the redevelopment of urban areas that have established a community redevelopment area and redevelopment trust fund pursuant to Florida Statutes Chapter 163. Tax increment financing captures increases in property values within the redevelopment district for use within the district." Got it?
Anyone still with us in this exploration should be up for medals. No wonder there is apathy among the citizenry. The question is how many commissioners really understand this or are just faking through the whole discussion like one does in advanced math who has not mastered the intricacies of long division.
After that exercise, the commissioners had to go through a review of the Clearwater-Largo corridor redevelopment doings. This report, for the guidance of the commission, was replete with graphs outlining assistance and relocation payments for those displaced, plus extensive charts on priority ratings for projects, needs assessments, improvements summaries etc.
It is all too much.
For openers at the meeting, it was simplicity itself. The results of a West Bay market study are in.
A consultant was hired to examine the whole ball of wax and determine that the West Bay Drive district ("downtown Largo") "does not currently function as a retail center" for the city.
The success, the report says, of the West Bay village project (all those new town homes south of West Bay between Seminole Boulevard and Clearwater-Largo Road), has spurred the city staff to recommend that higher density residential development be allowed in the area. Which would, the report says, "create a more viable market for retail uses."
Because of the good news brought from the consulting market analyst (why couldn't the city itself have determined these rather simple and obvious conclusions?) the staff is recommending exploring densities up to 30 units an acre that would be stored in high rises.
One reads all the jargon and bafflegab and ends exhausted.
Bottom line -- the commission does not know what it wants to do with "downtown" Largo. Thirty minutes was scheduled for discussion; an hour and 25 minutes was devoted to it. What is needed is a Robert Moses to grab the bull by the horns, be a dictator and carry out a plan.
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