By Steve Plunkett

    The Greater Boca Raton Beach and Park District is poised to freeze its annual contribution to the downtown Community Redevelopment Agency, meaning the CRA would get at least $132,000 less each year to keep the area pretty.
    “This is a business decision. I want that to be emphatically clear, that we’re looking at it from the standpoint of what’s fair for our community,” District Chairman Robert Rollins said.
    Other commissioners agreed.
    “If we don’t have to pay the money, why are we going to pay the money? Because we can use it for other projects,” Commissioner Dennis Frisch said. “I as a taxpayer would take offense at the district paying more money than we’re required to for anything.”
    “This is strictly a financial decision; it’s not a relationship decision,” Commissioner Earl Starkoff said.
    The beach and park district gave the CRA $894,000 last year and has been making contributions to its redevelopment trust fund since 1992. State law governing CRAs allows the district to freeze the amount it pays after 24 years. This is the first year it’s had the option to do so.
    The Beach and Park District money can be used only to beautify and maintain parks downtown, not to pay off debts.
    Arthur Koski, the district’s interim executive director, cautioned commissioners that while they are permitted to freeze the payments, Boca Raton officials might take offense.
    “I’m not quite sure if it’s an appropriate way to try to gather cooperation from the city, but it certainly is an opportunity for us,” Koski said.
    Commissioners will hold a special public hearing Aug. 22 on whether to use the freeze option on CRA payments.
    “If we exercise it now we will save our constituents over $1 million by 2024,” Starkoff said.

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