CRA Debate Continues to Escalate

Tuesday night city officials gave the community another look at what the downtown CRA will mean for them. After the city's presentation, a short but heated debate broke out.

It started with questions from a county commissioner, and then moved to county and city residents who took up the debate from there and it may be surprising who stands where on the downtown CRA.

Tuesday night folks not only got to see the latest downtown Community Redevelopment Area plans, they were front row to the angry opinions of one city resident.

Art Jusko, city resident and property owner, said, "I'm all for downtown improvements. I think it's a great idea, I just don't want them to take my tax money."

On the other side, a county resident says the downtown CRA is a great idea that everyone should be excited about.

Bill Moor, a Leon County resident, said, “We are not using money from other people's taxes. The county is misinforming the people by saying we are going to raise taxes across the county.”

A consultant for the city says the CRA is going to pay off for the community as a whole.

Kurt Easton of the RMPK Group, a city consultant, said, “It shouldn't cost them anything overtime. What it does is build the tax base and it pays for improvements that increase the tax base and defuses the cost to residential areas as a whole over time.”

The county couldn't disagree more. Vince Long, Leon County assistant administrator, said, “This isn't economic development. The County is for economic development. This is a cash grab.”

The consultant that the city is hoping to have more people living downtown and want to create more jobs, retail and restaurants downtown.

They say all of this will make a positive impact on the future of Tallahassee. There are more than 100 Community Redevelopment Areas in Florida and both sides agree a CRA is a powerful monetary tool that should be used carefully.