Manatee County plans to dissolve CRAs Sept. 30

skennedy@bradenton.comMarch 19, 2014 

Map of the 14th Street Community Redevelopment Area

MANATEE -- County officials plan to dissolve two existing community redevelopment areas by Sept. 30 and launch a new district Oct. 1.

Manatee County commissioners Tuesday reviewed a tentative timeline for the demise of the 14th Street West Community Redevelopment Area and the South County Community Redevelopment Area during a workshop session at County Administrative Center.

In their places are plans to create a new, larger, Southwest Tax Increment Financing district in southwest Manatee, which will require a series of steps in coming months, county officials said.

The redevelopment projects are designed to encourage commercial activity, fight crime and add amenities, which are paid for by using part of the money from increases in property-tax revenues as the areas re

vitalize.

The new district will be much more flexible in accomplishing redevelopment than the current CRAs have been, said Deputy County Attorney Bill Clague.

"You kind of make the rules in terms of how you're going to use those dollars, but in both cases, proceeds must be used for public purposes," he said.

County Commissioner Carol Whitmore was concerned that money left over from community redevelopment areas be reserved under the new arrangement for projects already approved by CRA advisory boards, which also will be abolished.

"We really need to be transparent about this," said Whitmore.

Commissioner Betsy Benac said it was important that members of the public know when they can comment.

"Obviously, we'll need to have a public forum," Benac said.

"We will be reaching out to neighborhood associations, and be flexible enough to help them," said County Administrator Ed Hunzeker.

The tentative timeline the board examined called for review of closeout of all CRA-funded projects in March, adoption of resolutions dissolving the CRA advisory boards in April and public hearings in June, August, September and October.

The Manatee County Community Redevelopment Agency, which administers projects in the two community redevelopment areas, would also be dissolved. It is governed by the county commission.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.

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