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Community redevelopment tool for cities threatened again in Florida Legislature

October 23, 2017

Tampa Bay Business Journal,

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October 20, 2017-

Local governments throughout Florida are once again facing statewide preemption efforts to cede local control to the Florida Legislature after thwarting many efforts earlier this year. Rep. Jake Raburn (R-Lithia) again filed a bill that would block cities and counties from creating Community Redevelopment Areas used to fund economic development in certain struggling geographic areas.  CRAs use tax incremental funds, or TIF, to pay for improvements in areas with blight or high levels of poverty. TIF money comes from increasing property taxes within the CRA.

Locally, CRAs have led to the completion of several major projects including St. Petersburg’s Dali Museum and Mahaffey Theater and the Tampa Convention Center. Supporters of last year’s bill, which Raburn also sponsored, said it’s a necessary measure to ensure transparency and accountability. They point to some questionable CRAs across the state including one in Melbourne created in 1982 that was reauthorized last year until 2042. In Miami, a CRA used 80 percent of its allocations for administrative costs, not to improve blight or provide affordable housing.

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