Sarasota News Leader

04/25/2014

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The first hint of "linkage" has emerged in the city's quest for county approval to extend the term of its Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA). A study com- mittee recommended the city and county grant another 30 years to the CRA, which uses a tax-differential scheme to fight slum and blight. In 2007, the city unilaterally extended the CRA to a defined area in north Sarasota, just before the bottom fell out of property values. Because the CRA depends on a difference between a "base year" and the current year to compute its tax revenue take, the difference for the north Sarasota CRA has been negative every year, because property values remain below 2007 levels. In addition to suggesting the Downtown CRA be extended, the study committee proposed a "reset" of the base year for the north Sarasota, or Newtown, CRA to 2013, in anticipation of a continued rise in property values. But the idea blew apart at the Monday, April 21, meeting of the City Commission. Attorneys for the city and county have sparred over the reset idea, with County Attorney Steve DeMarsh saying the city does not have the power to unilaterally take such action. City Attorney Bob Fournier thinks otherwise, but Mark Huey, chairman of the Newtown Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board, and Lorna Alston, general manager of the North Sarasota Redevelopment Office, address the City Commission on Monday. Photo by Norman Schimmel CITY COMMISSION DECIDES NOT TO RISK COUNTY WRATH OVER THE NEWTOWN COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY RESET QUASHED By Stan Zimmerman City Editor

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