Sarasota News Leader

07/12/2013

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Sarasota News Leader July 12, 2013 Page 61 resources. He used his CRA as a tool to at- THE REAL ISSUE tract outside investment from foundations Merrill's panel asked about how current CRAs that could provide grants. are governed. In the case of Delray Beach and "We helped fund CareerEdge with a $200,000 Bradenton, the city commissions appointed investment. To date it is a $5 million opera- the members of the board. Those boards, in tion, with $2 million invested from outside turn, could hire a professional to direct the the Sarasota-Manatee area. It is only there beoperation — if they chose to do so. cause we had a tool, the CRA that attracted outside investment," he told the CRA commit- Halliburton was paid by the CRA, not the city. tee members. When he resigned to return to banking, he was He also helped start Suncoast Community replaced by Bradenton's planning director. In Capitol to assist with the financing of small Delray Beach, Brown was hired by the CRA, businesses, again by teaming up with other not the city. partners. Additionally in Delray Beach, the board has Because the CRA financial model works on total latitude over spending. The city cannot the difference between the tax base at the veto or otherwise influence decision-making start, compared to the tax base in later years, except by appointment to the CRA board. In the early times for a CRA are hard. Halliburton Bradenton, the City Commission has 30 days is proud of the fact his CRA bumped up the to veto any spending move. Brown said Bratax base by $2 million during his seven years denton's veto power was unusual in the world in an almost exclusively residential area. "It of CRAs. takes a long time for that money to accumuOne of the thorny issues facing the Sarasota late," he noted. study group is whether it should recommend "The long-term plan was to create an envi- the establishment of a new governing board ronment for investment. CRAs create an in- if the CRA is renewed. Should the Sarasota centive; [they provide] money to subsidize City Commission remain the board? Should developments that won't make sense without the Sarasota County Commission have a say, that public investment," said Halliburton. "You since it pays $3.5 million per year into the CRA? Should the board be appointed and inhave to bring other players to the table." dependent? Sarasota's CRA did that with a $5 million subMerrill and his group will learn more about sidy to bring a Whole Foods supermarket to how CRAs are governed at their next meeting downtown Sarasota. And Halliburton did it — July 24 — when Carol Westmoreland will with a lot less to bring a Save-A-Lot grocery brief them. She is the executive director of the store to his East Bradenton community. In Florida Redevelopment Association. She will both cases, the stores make the surrounding be joined on the agenda by Bob Fournier, the areas much more livable. Sarasota city attorney. "The plan is the key to the whole thing," said The public meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall. % Halliburton.

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