Bradenton's City Council voted to seize control of the city's three community redevelopment agencies a week ago by a vote of 4-1. At that time, there was no plan in place for restructering these entities. But the council message is: Trust us.
This week, the council decided to forge ahead with the creation of an economic development department. The future of the Downtown Development Authority remains a mystery.
Citizens in the know defend the CRAs as viable operations. The volunteers who serve on agency advisory boards defend their work, objectives and projects. The Florida League of Cities honors these CRAs as a "benchmark in how it's working," according to Gene Brown, the lone council voice objecting to the majority rule.
Mayor Wayne Poston also objects but lacks a vote, saying, though, "The more people we get involved in government, the better government is."
The final four in the victorious voting bloc -- Harold Byrd, Gene Gallo, Patrick Roff and Bemis Smith -- should be held accountable for this. They promise a plan before the Jan. 1 takeover date. Smith has outlined a general restructuring but nothing's settled.
The council always held final responsibility for approving CRA projects and expenditures, so accountability always rested in their hands.
But there's a honey pot at the end of the rainbow here. In order to keep the county administration building downtown, years ago the DDA agreed to help pay development costs and pay the county its share of parking garage revenues. The DDA, which oversees the 14th Street West and Bradenton CRAs, is set to begin pocketing more than $1.3 million annually in 2018 when an interlocal agreement with Manatee County expires.
Citizens, formerly the guardian of the tax-increment cash register, are now out of the loop, though "advisory" boards are in the unwritten plans.
So the City Council has grabbed a soon-to-be fatter wallet. The city's CRA system was not broken until the council wielded a hammer and beat it to pieces. But we'll see how they stitch a new system together. A more aggressive commitment to removing blight would be welcome.