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NEWBERRY – The City of Newberry is closer to establishing a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) District in the downtown area.

A CRA focuses attention and resources in a blighted area of town. A City can take advantage of financial and planning tools provided under State law as part of a CRA to help create programs and projects to foster private market investment in the CRA.

Following several discussions between staff members for the City of Newberry and Alachua County on the creation of a CRA in Newberry, the City proposed details of an interlocal agreement to outline the terms and conditions of the CRA at a joint meeting between the two commissions.

Following a lengthy discussion, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) unanimously voted to authorize City and County staff to put together an interlocal agreement for final review by both commissions. BOCC Chair Robert “Hutch” Hutchinson asked that the two entities complete wording on the agreement in time for the County to begin collecting funds on Jan. 1, 2017.

Seven key elements of the proposed agreement were discussed, and both commissions reviewed the City's proposed CRA district map, which clearly showed the CRA boundaries. In addition, a CRA funding scenario at 1.5 percent average growth in taxable valuation was also outlined by Bryan Thomas, Planning Director, City of Newberry.

Following his presentation, BOCC members said they were glad to see the City was listening to their concerns which had been expressed during earlier joint discussions and that they were pleased that the City incorporated several changes into their proposed plan.

The seven elements of the proposed agreement include:

* The County's Contribution to the CRA Trust Fund will be based on the City's millage rate, rather than the County’s higher millage rate.

* The Proposed CRA Boundary would encompass approximately 690 acres.

* County Input on Projects Funded by County Contribution to Trust Fund is proposed to be met through the County’s approval of the CRA plan.

* County Input on Future Amendments to the CRA Plan

* Restrictions on CRA Funds for the specific benefit of Undeveloped Property in CRA District.

* Term of CRA and Extension – The City requested a term “not to exceed 40 years” with a review of the CRA plan every 10 years.”

* Evaluation of Tax Increment Funding (TIF) Contributions to CRA Trust Fund to allow renegotiations of a lower contribution to the TIF, while providing for the continued accomplishment of the mutual goals established in the district CRA plan.

If the interlocal agreement is approved by both City and County governing bodies, the City's contribution each year will mirror the County's contribution. The first year's total contribution to the CRA would be $5,743 or $2,862 each contributed by City and County. At an increase of 1.5 percent per year, by year 30, the City/County contribution to the CRA will be $107,243 each, or a total of $214,845. By the end of 30 years, the CRA District will receive an infusion of funds to the total of $3,091,252.

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