City, county agree to negotiate CRA terms

Virginia

Southeast / Virginia 4 Views

With a little prodding from State Rep. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, the Alachua County and city of Gainesville commissions will work out their concerns about the future of the Gainesville Community Redevelopment Agency together instead of through a bill that was successfully making its way through the state Legislature.

The commissions decided at a four-hour joint meeting Monday to agree to negotiate in good faith on an interlocal agreement that will determine how the CRA will be governed in the future, how certain CRA districts will be funded, and when they will be deemed successful and no longer needed.

The commissions also reached agreement to work together to develop a bill that will determine what kind of representation the county will have on the CRA board, which is currently made of the seven city commissioners. That bill will then be sponsored by the local state legislative delegation during the next legislative session.

Meanwhile, Clemons will withdraw a bill he introduced in the House on behalf of the county that would have possibly given county officials control of the CRA, a taxpayer-funded organization intended to repair and develop blighted areas in the city.

As the joint meeting was taking place, Clemons contacted county spokesman Mark Sexton and told him to tell the commissions he would withdraw the bill if they agreed to have good faith negotiations to settle their CRA differences.

The commissions then agreed to reduce the amount of money the county pays into the city’s College Park CRA so that both sides contribute an equal amount to the district. Currently, the county pays almost twice as much into the CRA compared with the city.

They also agreed that the county at its discretion may choose to have up to equal representation on the CRA board.

As the two sides talked about how to move forward, Clemons told Sexton a motion introduced by County Commissioner Robert Hutchinson "sounds like a good deal."

Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe initially expressed concern about reaching a decision with Clemons chiming in on the discussion through cellphone conversations with Sexton.

"This seems like a weird way to move forward," Poe said.

Move forward, however, is what the two sides decided to do.

"This is about a true partnership," Pinkoson said. "Right now, we’re just a funding partner. The interlocal agreement is the most important thing we can do."

Poe emphasized to both boards that their work has just begun.

"We still have a lot of work ahead of us," Poe said.

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