I feel compelled to voice an opposing position to a recent political statement made in a heated Manatee Tiger Bay Club debate. The politician’s inflammatory comment criticized the Bradenton City Council decision to become the Community Redevelopment Authority Board as “the worst decision ever made.”
This decision actually followed the example set by almost every CRA community in the state of Florida. It was also an ethically responsible reaction to several CRA missteps about which I would have rather avoided discussion.
Let us first examine the disregard to Florida State Statute 163 when the Downtown Development Authority sent its executive director to South Korea and then Bulgaria in two non-CRA related trips. The same board was about to give a 19.7 percent pay raise to the already well-paid director without any performance review during the height of the Great Recession.
Meanwhile, the City Council was responsible for 500 employees doing the work of a previous 600 without any financial compensation or normal raises. Morale of our hard-working public safety and sanitation employees would have been devastated.
Additionally, although the River Regatta might be amusing, it was in direct contrast to the attorney general’s decision 2010-40, which stated such events are not in the confines of CRA-authorized expenses. As for the CCRA, the council has twice approved bailout loans in excess of $1 million.
In just eight months, the City Council CRA has drawn a major investor and job creator to the downtown and secured a new hotel, which will fill the heads in beds formula needed for economic success. The City Council has generated a rebirth of downtown and has acted in a most responsible manner as it now rightfully refocuses on the slum and blight that still needs to be addressed as directed by state guidelines.
Also, thanks to a fiscal overhaul, we have saved over $100,000 in overhead to date. Worst decision ever? I say best decision ever!
Patrick M. Roff, Councilman, Ward 3
City of Bradenton