City may authorize $75,000 consultant for CRA

In response to a request advanced on June 11th by St Augustine City Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline, Historic City News reporters have been notified that, at tonight’s regular meeting, the commission will hear a report and request for approval of up to $75,000 for an outside consultant associated with the creation of a Lincolnville Community Redevelopment Agency.

Assistant City Attorney Isabelle Lopez and Director of Planning and Building Mark Knight, will lead the discussion tonight; initially scheduled as agenda item 11A. The compilation of estimated consulting costs and the procedures to create the proposed CRA was also reviewed by City Attorney Ron Brown as well as Mark Litzinger, City Comptroller.

The Commission was initially briefed on the basic requirements for creating a CRA last fall.

In January of this year, Litzinger reviewed the December 31st certified tax roll and noted that property values in the proposed CRA had decreased by another $2,577,003 from the June preliminary estimates.

A flat, or dropping, tax base essentially generates no funds for a CRA; and, with the exception of new construction, Litzinger estimates that the taxable value of the Lincolnville area will remain flat — or show a minimum growth in the near future.

At issue are efforts to find a way for city government to restore and operate the Willie Galimore Center and pool at Eddie Vickers Field. When the county Parks and Recreation Department refused to continue its maintenance agreement with the City for the pool facility, which, due to lack of proper attention, had been shut down by the Department of Health, the City found itself on the horns of a dilemma — where to find the income necessary to operate the pool going forward.

To add to their woes, $400,000 paid to the City by the County as a one-time lump-sum settlement for the neglect. With the money in the City’s hands, everyone seemed to have an idea of how it should be spent. Dr. Casey Welch was contracted to perform a citizen survey to determine what the community wanted to see happen with the property, and, at the last commission meeting, Architect Gerald Dixon made a presentation of his findings after he was apparently hired by the city to do the same thing — only with the addition of calculating specific redesign, modernization and construction estimates for the pool and building.

The City has already earmarked $40,000 of the $400,000 settlement to operate the center, temporarily, until the end of the budget year; September 30.

Tonight, commissioners will hear the following estimates from staff:

Access to government data and legal review: $20,000
General CRA Development: $55,000

Includes:
Organize and hold Community meetings
Notice to Taxing Authorities
Completion of a Finding of Necessity Report (FNR)
Resolution for Commission to adopt for FNR
Resolution creating CRA
Extensive public input regarding CRA Plan, redevelopment strategies and needs
Preparation of Community Redevelopment Plan (CRP)
Comprehensive Plan compliance review for CRP
Approval of CRP by Commission
Ordinance/Public Notice for Trust Fund
Ordinance/Public Notice for appropriation of Tax Increment Financing (TIF)
Final Reading of Ordinance

If approved, the City Attorney’s office will provide legal review; other costs will require a budget transfer or appropriation as determined by the City Comptroller.

To be determined tonight is if the City Commission will direct staff to proceed with advertising for, and hiring, a consultant to produce the required data and analysis, including government data, and draft planning documents for implementation of the proposed Lincolnville CRA.

According to Lopez, if approved, the $75,000 for consultant fees will be paid from reserves and, as allowed by law, may be repaid from CRA funds — if such funds ever materialize.

If you are planning to attend — the regular St Augustine City Commission meeting will begin at 5:00 p.m. Monday and will be held in the Alcazar Room; on the first floor of the west wing of City Hall, located at 75 King Street in St. Augustine. It will be broadcast live on Comcast Government TV (Cable Channel 3) and is streamed over the Internet.

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