By Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
DAYTONA BEACH SHORES -- While some Volusia County municipalities want to establish new community redevelopment areas, the City Council here bucked the trend by voting to terminate the city's CRA.
City leaders say the reason for killing its CRA is simple -- it hasn't made any money.
Steve Whitmer, the city's finance director, said only one number was an important factor in the City Council's decision, the amount of revenue the CRA is expected to generate this year and in future years.
That number? "Zero," Mr. Whitmer said.
Daytona Beach Shores' CRA was established in 2005, shortly after the hurricanes of 2004 did considerable damage along Atlantic Avenue, with a sunset after 15 years. The taxable value of the CRA has been below its 2005 baseline valuation at least the last three years, and city staff believes the valuation would not see any substantial increase in the near future, Mr. Whitmer said, adding he felt the city keeping its CRA would be "pointless."
"It really makes no sense to have this thing," Mr. Whitmer said.
After city leaders voted unanimously to terminate the CRA, the Volusia County Council must now give final approval on the city's action. City Manager Mike Booker indicated the county also is in favor of terminating the CRA.
"It's a prudent thing to do with the way our economy has turned," Mr. Booker said. "I think our council has recognized that."
CRAs are special taxing districts designed to generate revenue aimed at stimulating economic development and eliminating blight. Daytona Beach Shores' CRA is just one of about 15 in Volusia County; other cities with CRAs include Daytona Beach, DeLand, Holly Hill, New Smyrna Beach, Port Orange and South Daytona.
Mr. Booker said the Shores CRA made money in its first few years, enabling the city to make improvements, such as the development of public parks and more than 300 off-beach parking spaces.
"I think we did accomplish a lot in a short period of time," Mr. Booker said.
But with the onset of the real estate bubble in 2007 and the financial crisis in 2008, the CRA crashed as well.
"There really is not much hope it would make money again," Mr. Booker said.
Mayor Harry Jennings agreed, simply saying, "I think it's in the best interest of the city at the time."
After Mr. Whitmer said Volusia County leaders had considered the Daytona Beach Shores CRA a "poster child" for how other communities should manage their redevelopment areas, Councilwoman Jennie Celona said county leaders "are probably going to call us the poster child again, for terminating."
Whether other communities follow the lead of Daytona Beach Shores and eliminate their redevelopment districts, city leaders believe the economy's adverse effects on its CRA could cause other local governments to rethink the idea of new CRAs.
"I believe it will be a very cold day before the county decides to do a new CRA anywhere," Mr. Whitmer said.