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City Commission hears affordable housing recommendations, reaffirms whistleblower policy

The City Commission heard from the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee; the 11-member group had eight total recommendations.
Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 7:17 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2021 at 9:23 AM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - City Commissioners discussed affordable housing, whistleblower and anti-fraud policies, and the future of the airport’s customs facility.

Affordable Housing

The City Commission heard from the Affordable Housing Advisory Committee; the 11-member group had eight total recommendations.

The Commission did not take action on the recommendations but accepted them and directed staff to prepare an analysis for discussion during a workshop with the County in 2022.

The recommendations include:

  • Increase awareness on development process and incentives offered and continue existing expedited permitting for Affordable Housing developments
  • Develop a streamlined process for requesting waivers and incentives delegating as much as expedient to staff for approval and codify the waivers and incentives that are available in the new Affordable Housing Incentives ordinance
  • Support the development of an Affordable Housing Incentives Ordinance
  • Amend the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance to apply to rental developments as well as homeownership developments, lower the threshold number of units to 20, and expand applicability to citywide
  • Expand types of homes that may be certified as affordable and encourage more Missing Middle typologies
  • Identify additional financial resources to increase funding allocation to the Affordable Home Construction Loan Program
  • Prioritize redevelopment and the rehabilitation of the existing housing stock for affordable purchase and allocate funds for affordable rental housing
  • Explore, along with the County AHAC, impact and linkage fees for development as a permanent source of funding for affordable housing

The Chair of the Committee spoke to the Commission about the importance of housing.

“You’re not going to have a workforce if they can’t afford to live here, and that is a real problem right now,” he said. “Low paying jobs don’t give them enough money to survive. What we can do in this business is help our business community survive and grow.”

Whistleblower and Anti-Fraud Policies pass

The move comes in the wake of former City Commissioner Scott Maddox’s pay-for-play corruption scheme as an elected official.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the City Commission also passed additional whistleblower and anti-fraud policies.

The move comes in the wake of former City Commissioner Scott Maddox’s pay-for-play corruption scheme as an elected official; he was sentenced to five years in prison.

The City’s Inspector General, Dennis Sutton, brought the agenda item to the Commission in response to a previous ethics audit.

Sutton says whistleblower protections are provided by state law and cover issues such as fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement.

The policy protects the person’s identity if they come forward with a complaint to ensure there is no retribution.

Sutton says the anti-fraud policy ensures the City is clear that it has zero tolerance of fraud coming from any position.

“It’s important because the more we can say it, the more people hear it, the more it sinks in, the more it becomes part of the everyday culture and thought process of everyone, because these are important issues,” Sutton said.

Sutton said the protections and policies are already part of City law, but this move represents the City reaffirming its commitment.

They will be considered part of the City’s “critical policies,” ensuring all employees are aware of them.

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