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Under Florida law (Chapter 163, Part III), local governments are able to establish a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) when certain conditions exist. Since all the monies used in financing CRA activities are locally generated, CRAs are not overseen by the state, but redevelopment plans must be consistent with local government comprehensive plans. Examples of conditions that can support the creation of a CRA include, but are not limited to: the presence of substandard or inadequate structures; a shortage of affordable housing; inadequate infrastructure; insufficient roadways; and inadequate parking. To document that the required conditions exist, the local government must survey the proposed redevelopment area and prepare a Finding of Necessity. If the Finding of Necessity determines that the required conditions exist, the local government may create a CRA to provide the tools needed to foster and support the targeted Community Redevelopment Area (District).
The Florida Redevelopment Association’s CRA Basics page offers an overview of how CRAs function and benefit the community.
The Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) administers all the activities and programs within a Community Redevelopment Area (District). A five- to seven-member CRA "Board" created by the local government (city or county) directs the agency. The Board can be comprised of local government officials and or other individuals appointed by the local government. Although one local government may establish multiple CRA districts, there generally may be only one CRA Board. Each district must maintain separate trust funds, and expend those funds only in that district. In the City of Sebastian, the City Council - a five member board serves as the CRA Board.
All CRA’s within the State of Florida are created through the same steps:
The Community Redevelopment Agency is responsible for developing and implementing the Community Redevelopment Plan that addresses the unique needs of the redevelopment District. The plan includes the overall goals for redevelopment in the area, as well as identifying the types of projects planned for the area.
Examples of traditional projects include:
The plan can also include redevelopment incentives such as grants and loans for such things as façade improvements, landscaping, signs, and structural improvements.
The redevelopment plan is a document that can be updated to meet the changing needs within the Community Redevelopment Area; however, the boundaries of the area cannot be changed without starting the process from the beginning.
Tax increment financing is a unique tool available to cities and counties for redevelopment activities. It is used to leverage public funds to promote private sector activity in the targeted area. Tax increment revenue is the increase in ad valorem tax attributed to the increase in the assessed property value over a set ‘base year” for the redevelopment area.
The government jurisdictions remitting tax increment revenue to the Sebastian Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) are the City of Sebastian and the Indian River County Board of County Commissioners. Taxing authorities, who contribute to the tax increment, continue to receive property tax revenues at the base value. These revenues are available for general government purposes. However, any tax revenues from increases in real property value, referred to as “increment,” are deposited into the CRA Trust Fund and dedicated to the redevelopment area. The major funding source for the Sebastian CRA is tax increment revenue.
It is important to note that property tax revenue collected by the School Board and any special district are not affected under the tax increment financing process. Further, unlike in some states, Florida taxing entities write a check to the CRA trust fund, after monies are received from the tax collector.
The tax increment revenues can be used immediately, saved for a particular project, or can be bonded to maximize the funds available. Any funds received from a tax increment financing area must be used for specific redevelopment purposes within the targeted area, and not for general government purposes.