Before any discussion of a Community Redevelopment Act here is the State Statute Title XI, Chapter 163,
Given the history of midtown, the recent easy manipulation of tax increment funds(TIF) in the Pier debacle, the City has absolutely no business creating a CRA for midtown. Here are some reasons why.
- The CRA is an independent authority. It will be quickly riddled with special interests and the opportunity for fraud and mishandling of funds is almost a certainty.
- Look at the fine job the City has done managing the Housing Authority. This is the Housing Authority on steroids.
- The big question is will tax rates be increased in the CRA to provide the tax increment funds?
- How much will the City borrow against the tax increment funds?
- Who will pay the interest?
- What happens when the Midtown CRA goes bust. Who picks up the tab?
This section of St. Petersburg has never responded to redevelopment efforts and it is unlikely it will until it is policed better. It won't be policed better until the current Police Chief and most of his assistant chiefs are gone.
You have to start where the problems are: drugs, prostitution, crime and begin to solve those issues without worrying about the next riot. Throwing Tax Increment Funds into some huge bond effort in an attempt to somehow build our way out of these problems is unlikely to work.
Unless Mayor Foster is ready to make some long needed changes at the PD this whole effort is merely good money chasing the wrong problems.
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