Commissions Debate CRA

The issue is whether downtown Tallahassee should or shouldn't be included within a community redevelopment area.

As it stands, state lawmakers are giving the two commissions one last chance to reach an agreement, but if they don't, lawmakers say they have no choice but to take legislative action.

State lawmakers were disappointed Monday evening as they met before city and county commissioners who couldn't agree whether downtown Tallahassee should be a part of the designated community redevelopment area.

The city argues that everyone in Leon County will benefit from a redeveloped downtown.

"Downtown is not what we want it to be. It needs to be 100-percent better than it is, this is a way to get us there. People benefit from a vibrant downtown,” says Tallahassee City Commissioner Mark Mustian.

The city designated Frenchtown as a CRA in 1998, later including downtown as a CRA district, but since '98, Leon County became a charter, a move that now gives them more power than they had before.

"What the County is now saying is since they've become a charter county. They want to be the approving authority, but the state doesn't provide for that, and Florida Case law doesn't provide for that,” James English, Tallahassee City Attorney comments.

County leaders say they only want a voice in which areas are designated, even if it takes a legislative bill to do it.

"It's a $100 million issue county-wide, taxpayers will be paying for it and we think that it's something the commission should have some say in,” Leon County Administrator Vincent Long adds.

State lawmakers say if the two sides can't compromise, then they're prepared to step in.

"We would be prepared to act as a legislative delegation. Prepared to act in the best interest of the citizens of this community, by filling the appropriate legislation,” says Rep. Curtis Richardson, (D) Tallahassee.

Monday night, the five state lawmakers who were present agreed to give the two sides one final change to go back to drawing board and come up with a solution on their own.

Tuesday there is a county commission meeting and County Commissioner Tony Grippa is expected to give some recommendation.

One other note, the clock is now ticking for both sides, because state lawmakers say their deadline for filing bills is March 1.