County Commissioner requests a pause on funding for Downtown CRA

By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 7, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor is requesting that the Leon County Government put a pause on funding
for the Downtown CRA.

This comes after the FBI launched an investigation into development deals, issuing a subpoena to the City of Tallahassee and the CRA last
month requesting any communication with a list of companies, developers and business people in town.

The commissioner sent out a memo to the CRA Chairman Nick Maddox as well as the CRA Board, County Administrator Vince Long and City Manager Rick Fernandez on the matter.

It reads in part:

"I strongly recommend that funding decisions be suspended as related to Downtown CRA projects.... I feel that I am blindly a part of an organization which may have dual or multiple allegiances and/or hidden agendas."

Proctor has also requested that a expert be retained to instruct CRA members about the policies and parameters of the organization as mandated by state law.

"Unfortunately, our names and reputations are affected when the agency we serve on is under FBI review. Not only is the FBI
investigation a wakeup call, but it is a call that compels a heightened focus, on our part, over operational details for which we hold oversight," he said in the statement.

Proctor has requested that an agenda item be added to the county's next meeting to discuss the matter. He said it would be difficult to
support the 2017-2018 budget if it includes funds going towards the Downtown CRA.

"The bottom line, for me, is simple. I cannot look into any citizens' eyes and justify my support of the Downtown CRA. Can you?" he said in a separate memo to board of Leon County Commissioners.

The County has recently discussed pulling from the Downtown CRA because some of the commissioners felt the area was no longer a "blighted area." Instead, they are considering saving the funds
to make up for a portion of the homestead tax which could be lost within the coming years.

Leon County Commissioner and CRA Board Member Mary Ann Lindley said she isn't opposed to speeding up the process of leaving the downtown CRA, but that it has nothing to do with the FBI investigation.

"I feel like we have the play in motion already," she said. "If the county moves forward, tries to fast forward a little bit, for me, it's not a reaction to this FBI stuff. That's a separate thing."

According to Roxanne Manning, the Executive Director of the CRA, the City, County and CRA Board must all agree to dissolve a CRA district. It would then require an amendment to the three party agreement. This is mandated under state statue.

This will be a topic for discussion at the county's commission meeting Tuesday, as well as the upcoming CRA meeting Thursday.

The entire city commission, as well as several county commissioners serve on the CRA Board. However subpoenas were not issued to the county government.

Although the circumstances of the investigation aren't clear, the subpoenas demand documents regarding any communication with about two dozen business entities, developers and businessmen and women in Tallahassee. Notables include Adam Corey, the developer behind the city backed restaurant The Edison and Gillum's former
campaign treasurer; JT Burnette, the developer behind Hotel Duval; Paige Carter-Smith, the Executive Director of the Downtown Improvement Authority; and Kim Rivers, CEO of the medical marijuana dispensary Trulieve.



By: Mariel Carbone | WCTV Eyewitness News
July 6, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV)-- Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor is requesting that the Leon County Government put a pause on funding
for the Downtown CRA.

This comes after the FBI launched an investigation into development deals, issuing a subpoena to the City of Tallahassee and the CRA last month requesting any communication with a list of companies, developers and business people in town.

The commissioner sent out a memo to the CRA Chairman Nick Maddox as well as the CRA Board, County Administrator Vince Long and City Manager Rick Fernandez on the matter.

It reads in part:

"I strongly recommend that funding decisions be suspended as related to Downtown CRA projects.... I feel that I am blindly a part of an organization which may have dual or multiple allegiances and/or hidden agendas."

Proctor has also requested that a expert be retained to instruct
CRA members about the policies and parameters of the organization as mandated by state law.

"Unfortunately, our names and reputations are affected when the agency we serve on is under FBI review. Not only is the FBI investigation a wakeup call, but it is a call that compels a heightened focus, on our part, over operational details for which we hold oversight," he said in the statement.

Proctor has requested that an agenda item be added to the county's next meeting to discuss the matter. He said it would be difficult to support the 2017-2018 budget if it includes funds going towards the Downtown CRA.

"The bottom line, for me, is simple. I cannot look into any citizens' eyes and justify my support of the Downtown CRA. Can you?" he said in a separate memo to board of Leon County Commissioners.

The County has recently discussed pulling from the Downtown CRA because some of the commissioners felt the area was no longer a "blighted area." Instead, they are considering saving the funds
to make up for a portion of the homestead tax which could be lost within the coming years.

The entire city commission as well as several county commissioners serve on the CRA Board. However subpoenas were not issued to the county government.

Although the circumstances of the investigation aren't clear, the subpoenas demand documents regarding any communication with about two dozen business entities, developers and businessmen and women in Tallahassee. Notables include Adam Corey, the developer behind the city backed restaurant The Edison and Gillum's former
campaign treasurer; JT Burnette, the developer behind Hotel Duval; Paige Carter-Smith, the Executive Director of the Downtown Improvement Authority; and Kim Rivers, CEO of the medical marijuana dispensary Trulieve.

A grand jury is set to convene on July 11.



 
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