The Coastal Star

Delray Beach: City sets review of downtown tax sharing

By Jane Smith

    At their March meeting, Delray Beach commissioners will review an agreement that would give them more of the property taxes collected in the downtown.
    “It’s not going to continue as is,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said Oct. 29 at the city’s goal-setting session.
    The current structure calls for the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency to receive the bulk of the property taxes in that 1,961-acre district. A base property value was set in 1985 when few people ventured into the downtown after dark.
    Today, the CRA has revitalized the downtown core. The property has increased in value so much that it generates more than $8.8 million in property taxes from the city to the CRA’s coffers annually. The agency also will receive nearly $6 million in property taxes this budget year from the county.
    The city would like to allow the CRA to keep receiving the county money, but reduce the amount it gives to the CRA.
    The city attorney said the intralocal agreement can be restructured between the city and the CRA.
    Vice Mayor Shelly Petrolia talked about the disconnection she sees between the city and the CRA. The city is trying not to build anything new until it can maintain what it owns, she said. She pointed out the design contract for the grounds at Old School Square which would create more of a park.
    “It’s great when you’re here,” she said to Jeff Costello, the CRA executive director. “But when you’re not, it’s the silo effect.”
Her concerns raised at the end of the Oct. 20 City Commission meeting led the city manager to write a letter advising the CRA not to move forward with that design contract.
    “As the owners of the property the commission feels they should workshop this matter among themselves and seek input from the public and stakeholders prior to any expenditure other than repairs taking place,” City Manager Don Cooper wrote on Oct. 22.
Costello said at the goal-setting session that the CRA board would review that design contract at its Nov. 5 meeting. The CRA can issue the design contract, but the city commissioners would have to approve any improvements to the Old School Square property because the city owns the buildings and the land.
    The mayor said, “You’ll have to demonstrate to this commission what should be in your budget.” He told Costello to expect more scrutiny.
    Costello brought up some of the city programs the CRA underwrites, including the Clean and Safe program for the downtown and the free trolley service.
    Commissioner Mitch Katz pressed for a date when the agreement will be ready. The city manager said the first meeting in March, which was acceptable to the other commissioners and to Costello.
    He said the CRA will soon have the results of its tax-increment analysis performed for each of its eight subareas.

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