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Sarasota News Leader June 28, 2013 Page 30 (55 percent), but operating transfers from CRA accounts to other city accounts grew to 39 percent of the total. This dynamic accelerated after 2004, when the city commissioners unilaterally decided that they could pay for police services and landscaping expenses out of CRA funds. The shift caught the eye of Ernie Ritz, chairman of the Downtown Improvement District. He spoke during the committee's open-to-thepublic section. "I've seen us start to use CRA funds as a general fund, money coming out of the CRA going for police and other things I don't think the CRA was created to do," he said. Current "inter-fund transfers" include $1 million for police services within the CRA area, $540,000 for landscape maintenance, $265,000 for street and highway maintenance, $85,000 for the Robert L. Taylor Community Complex and $725,000 to run two redevelopment offices (one for downtown; one for Newtown). PARTNERSHIPS EXAMINED Brown pointed to several locations where CRA investment in public-private partnerships produced great benefits. In 2003, the CRA provided almost $5 million to bring a Whole Foods grocery to downtown Sarasota. The year the deal was cut, the property was assessed for tax purposes at $3.2 million. Today it is on the tax rolls for $57.4 million. The project includes a parking garage with 300 public spaces and 95 condominiums. It has paid $6.6 million in property taxes since it was developed. Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown. Photo by Norman Schimmel

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