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South Cape CRA commissioners appointed

By Staff | Jan 23, 2018

After more than five years, Cape Coral City Council will no longer also serve as the Community Redevelopment Agency Commission.

The City Council voted 6-0 Monday to make the CRA Advisory Board the new CRA Commission.

The commission will still receive oversight from the city and Councilmember John Gunter will serve as the Council liaison. The CRA Commission, though, will have the authority to craft its budget and make decisions for residents and businesses within the CRA boundaries with Council to still have final say on monetary commitments.

City Council also officially dismantled the CRA Advisory Board, as it is now the CRA Commission.

The CRA was an quasi-independent agency until 2012, when City Manager John Szerlag advised that funding decreases brought about by the real estate bust had made the agency fiscally unsustainable. At Szerlag’s recommendation, City Council assumed the oversight role and Szerlag became the agency’s executive director.

The CRA was originally established to eliminate blight within its boundaries and spur economic development with funding to come from “tax increment financing.” TIF funds are the difference between the tax base when the CRA was formed and current revenues; taxes from the base go into the city’s General Fund; increases, if any, above that base go to the CRA for its projects.

Projects include capital improvements such as the streetscape on Lafayette Street and the one now under construction Southeast 47th Terrace.

The five-person commission will include Linda Biondi and Janis Keim for two-year terms, and Stacy Lomonaco, Ray St. Pierre and Greg Gebhart for four years. All were approved by unanimous votes.

In the future the City Council will decide on the criteria for being on the board. Currently, Realtors, restaurant owners, urban planners and others are part of the commission.

In other business:

n Council approved the appropriation of reserve funds being sought for reparations in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. The city approved $10 million and is anticipated that damages will exceed $17.6 million. The remainder of the money, $7.6 million, will be appropriated at the Feb. 5 meeting.

n On the consent agenda, the city also expressed its support for the Family Initiative Southwest Florida Autism Center, State Rep. Dane Eagle will try to bring $102,000 to the Family Initiative group for in order to get it running.

n The city will receive two LifePak Heart monitors and its related accessories. The monitors are considered state of the art with interim Fire Chief Ryan Lamb saying the goal of the department is to have at least one unit in every station by 2021.

n Council named Jeannette Ann Dandenault as Stormwater special master, replacing Jeffrey Satfield, who resigned. Dan Read was appointed to the Municipal Planning Organization’s Citizens Advisory Committee.

n Councilmember Jessica Cosden will add one more feather to her cap, as she joins the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.

Council members Jennifer Nelson and Marilyn Stout were not at the meeting, as they were out of the state.