Having gone to most of the public hearings and forums regarding the Johnson Street project, I will have a lot to say about this -before and at the meeting.
I'm not stepping on my own lines by telling you here that it will all be uniformily unflattering to the city and Mr. Benson in general and the Hollywood CRA in particular, including numerous examples of the city's failure to follow through on their past promises, even on something as simple as posting adequate public notice on the Johnson Street site prior to meetings.
Believe me, I went there to double-check for them and they were nowhere to be found.
When I'd physically go to the CRA office the afternoon of the meetings, nobody was around who could explain the failure to handle something so basic.
September 8th, 2007
Big change for CRAs
The Florida Supreme Court this week put the reins on Community Redevelopment Agencies, known as CRAs, leaving their supporters reeling in surprise. There are 178 CRAs created by local governments in Florida to revitalize blighted areas. The agencies collect a portion of the property taxes within defined tax-increment districts to spend on improvements there.
The CRAs' record is decidely mixed. Some -- in Miami Beach, for example -- have wrought wonders. Others, like Miami's CRA, which has been hampered by conflicting agendas, have yet to live up to their promise. With the court's ruling, the CRAs, which are governed by boards made up of elected officials, will now have to be more accountable. This is a good thing, even if it makes CRAs' jobs more challenging.
The court reversed an earlier ruling in deciding that the state Constitution requires CRAs to seek voter approval to use tax-increment dollars to finance bonds for capital-improvement projects. This is a huge change. Until this decision, city or county commissioners or school-board members governing a CRA could simply take a vote to issue bonds using district money. Now elected officials will have to take such a proposal to a vote, like any other bond issue. The ruling left unclear if the vote would be limited to the taxing district or held citywide.
The ruling won't stop dubious decisions, such as the Hollywood City Commission's buying land with CRA money and turning it over to developers for free. But it definitely will allow more public say on big-ticket items such as the Miami City Commission's plan to use CRA money to back $50 million in bonds to pay for the city's share of a port tunnel. Neither the port nor the entrance to the tunnel -- Watson Island -- are in the taxing district.
Now, the Miami CRA and other redevelopment agencies will have to justify major spending decisions to voters. Responsible CRA leaders need not fear. South Florida voters in the past have ably separated the good from the bad deals in bond-issue referendums.
City of Hollywood, Florida
Office of the City Manager
PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 7, 2007
Contact: Raelin Storey
Media Relations Director
Phone: (954) 921-3098 Fax: (954) 921-3314
TOWN HALL MEETING ON HOLLYWOOD BEACH
SET FOR 7:00 PM, SEPTEMBER 11, 2007
HOLLYWOOD, FL - District 1 Hollywood City Commissioner Cathy Anderson will be holding a town hall meeting at the Hollywood Beach Culture and Community Center at 1301 South Ocean Drive to provide residents an opportunity to hear about the proposed Master Plan for Hollywood Beach from renowned urban designer Bernard Zyscovich. This proposed plan is a comprehensive look at zoning, land use and redevelopment on Hollywood's world famous beach.
Residents will also have access to valuable information about emergency preparedness from the Florida Department of Emergency Management, expert assistance with questions relating to property tax assessments, and guidance from the Broward County Historical Commission for owners of historical properties.
"I wanted to create a forum for the residents of Hollywood to get vital information on a number of issues I know they have questions about," says Commissioner Anderson. "I hope it will be a beneficial and enjoyable evening."
City Manager Cameron Benson will provide an overview of current issues facing the City. Gil Martinez, Executive Director of the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency-Beach District will update residents on a number of construction projects along the beach. Members of the City's senior staff will also be available to talk with residents.
For additional information contact the CRA-Beach District at (954) 924-2980 or the Office of the Mayor and Commissioners at (954) 921-3321.