- Published on Sunday, 22 April 2012 16:27
- Written by High Springs Vice Mayor Bob Barnas
- Hits: 1922
Since 1986 High Springs as a city has had the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) that was set up basically to spend your tax dollars for improvement in the core of the city or downtown area. This agency will expire in 2016.
Since 1986, the board has been made up of the five sitting city commissioners. This year I am chair of the CRA and started researching.
For those that have seen the artistic bike racks in the downtown, these CRA dollars were used to purchase them to the tune of approximately $4,000. We have also used these dollars to repair the community theater. Were these good projects? Let me know your thoughts on future uses.
I also found out several others things:
- Last year under the chair’s direction, the City of High Springs took $85,000 of next’s years CRA budget to finish the old school project behind City Hall.
- The previous chair also pushed forward and allowed the transfer of $95,000 from the CRA budget to the city budget to cover city staffing and shortfalls. The recent formal audit we just finished called them out on this move and suggested the city properly transfer funds in the future, and only as needed.
- We get approximately $215,000 a year to redevelop the core of downtown businesses, buildings, sewer, water and more. But the way the previous CRA chairs allowed the money to flow, we now only have around $30-40,000 left to help rehab our core.
- And this, we can have two more members of the board from the business community that do not have a High Springs residential address. I ask, why did previous chairs “never” address this? Why did they exclude our business property owners from the process? It is now time that we do include them.
Over the next week we will be looking to add two local business people to the CRA.
As chair of the CRA, I will insist that your tax dollars be used to fund projects that need to be done, and not used to cover shortfalls in the city budget or pet projects that have been mismanaged.
Downtown building facades and sidewalks and small but noticeable projects should be looked at.
The CRA funds can help local core businesses and homes. We need to address this now.