BRADENTON -- Bradenton City Council will meet with existing community redevelopment agencies in a joint workshop May 20.
Vernon DeSear, chairman of the board of Downtown Development Authority, one of the CRAs, asked city council Wednesday for the meeting before the first reading of an ordinance to abolish the CRA boards and cede their responsibilities to city council.
"The purpose of this meeting is to engage long-term goals," DeSear said.
According to the city of Bradenton website, the meeting will be at 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Hampton Inn & Suites, 309 10th St. W.
Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith said this is a discussion the council should have.
"It doesn't have to be said that a meeting with these groups is something the council ought to do," Smith said.
This month, the council agreed to vote to disband CRAs in favor of one CRA board, which would be made up of city council members.
Existing districts include the Bradenton CRA, which includes the DDA; the 14th
Street West CRA; and the Central CRA.
CRAs receive specific tax increment funds to pay for projects within district boundaries. The primary goal of each CRA is to remove blight through redevelopment.
The first reading of the ordinance and resolution is expected to take place May 27. Officials set June 24 as the date for a second reading.
If passed, CRA boards will dissolve Jan. 1 and the city council will then begin conducting CRA meetings.
Smith said there is "some angst with what the board has done or where the board is going."
"I think it is time to look forward," Smith said. "Just like any business plan or any effort, I think there are some broad-reaching initiatives that can benefit the city. ... I encourage you guys to come talking about ways we move forward looking down the road for the next 30 years."
The joint workshop won't be a complaint session, Smith said.
"It's all focused on what can happen," he said. "What we can do to make Bradenton better over the next 30 years long after I'm gone."
Ward 1 Councilman Gene Gallo said the mission of the CRAs from day one was to remove slum and blight. Gallo said the CRA boards should bring plans to redevelop Bradenton to the meeting.
"It's nice to have weekend parties but that is not what you are all about," Gallo said.
Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff said the Florida League of Cities told him the council is moving in the right direction.
"We are not wanting to just disband the boards," Roff said. "We just want to restructure how we go about business."
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.