INDIAN ROCKS BEACH - Jose Coppen, the newest member of the Indian Rocks Beach City Commission, has been talking about a "CRA" since his campaigning days, well before the March election that put him in office.
What is it?
A CRA is a Community Redevelopment Agency that is a separate entity within a city government that exists to implement redevelopment activities in accord with certain Florida statutes.
Coppen is still pushing for such a plan and has prodded City Manager Al Grieshaber more than a few times to get that ball rolling.
A CRA, which oversees a redevelopment plan adopted by the City Commission, must have a public purpose that incorporates the idea of fixing urban blight.
Projects can be new buildings, streetscapes, parking lots and garages, parks, plantings, sidewalks, etc.
An obvious use of a CRA would be in the so-called "business triangle," about which there is much talk but very little action.
Tax increment financing (TIF) is the method by which a CRA redevelopment plan is financed.
A TIF can sound a little complicated but it works this way - The real property value in the district is determined as of a certain date, which is then taken as the "frozen tax base."
The appraised increase in property value in subsequent years is called the "increment." The millage rate is applied only to the increment figure which is multiplied by .95 and produces a figure which is then deposited in the CRA trust fund.
Taxes derived from the frozen tax base continue to go to the city and the county.
The funds thus generated in the CRA trust fund can be used immediately or held for the future. They must be used for redevelopment with the CRA plan. They cannot be used for general government.
With the urgency Coppen is placing on this idea, Indian Rocks Beach will probably have a CRA before long.
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