MANATEE -- The new Southwest Area Tax Increment Financing District is taking shape after county commissioners last month phased out earlier incarnations, called community redevelopment areas.
The district, occupying the southwest quadrant of the county, was established Oct. 1.
It is expected to generate $780,796 this year, according to Jan Brewer, deputy director for the county's financial management department.
Of that amount, $145,694 is allocated for current-year expenses to the tax financing district, also called the Southwest County Improvement District; $255,102 to be placed in reserves; and $380,000 for the county's general fund, Brewer said.
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Projects designed to encourage commercial activity, fight crime, and add amenities will be paid for by using part of the money from increases in property-tax revenues as the area revitalizes.
District boundaries are from Manatee Avenue on the north to the Sarasota County line on the south, and from Sarasota Bay on the west to U.S. 301 on the east.
The next step involves contacting small business owners and listening to what they'd like to see in the way of projects to be financed as part of the work of the new district, said Alison Hewitt, executive director for the Central Economic Development
Center, a nonprofit partner of the county.
"When the TIF became operational, the county said it needed boots on the ground, and to start talking to businesses," said Hewitt.
"We're making appointments and alerting businesses, doing evaluations, and asking them about their business plan, their workforce, marketing, and financial status," said Hewitt.
Hewitt's marching orders are to ask businesspeople in the district what their needs are, and to report back to county officials.
Which projects might be chosen for the district's first effort have yet to be decided by the commission, said Hewitt.
A former board member of the South County Community Redevelopment Area, who opposed its dissolution on Sept. 30, said he has heard little discussion about the new tax financing district.
"I don't know enough about it now, nobody knows anything about it," said Norm Luppino, a Realtor and a former county commission candidate.
"Some people have read things, maybe heard of it, but nobody's talking about it, there's no enthusiasm," said Luppino. "It's something I guess is out there, it's such a big area, I guess people don't fully understand it."
"It didn't get really any traction yet, there's no real proposals for anything yet, and because of that, nobody can really wrap their arms around it," he added.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.