Mike Zaffaroni
Mike Zaffaroni

Submitted by Mike Zaffaroni

Chair, Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board

In our upcoming November 5, 2013 election, residents of the City of Fernandina Beach will have an opportunity to remove a restriction on our City’s redevelopment of existing property.  The City Commission has chosen to place on the ballot a referendum that would allow our Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) to exceed 2% (its current limit) of the total value of all property within City limits and remove the maximum number of CRAs.  The current restriction limits us to a relatively small area along the waterfront in Downtown and neglects opportunities in other areas that will benefit citizens and tourists alike. CRA’s are about the revitalization of public areas and preservation of a community’s history. There are almost 200 CRA’s throughout the State of Florida. As a tool they help to redevelop and revitalize urban areas in large cities like Jacksonville and Tampa as well as smaller communities like Madison, Apalachicola and here in Fernandina Beach.  Examples of well-known projects include Church Street in Orlando, Ybor City in Tampa, and the beachfront in Ft. Lauderdale.  However, some of the most successful redevelopment projects have been in smaller cities like our own. CRA’s are designed to improve the existing land, buildings, structures and resources and to breathe new life into areas that need a boost.  CRA dollars are most commonly used for streetscaping, lighting, infrastructure improvement, parks, façade repair, sidewalks, trees and other general needs to support an economic effort in a specific district.  CRA’s CANNOT spend money on general government operating expenses, construction of administrative buildings, eminent domain or annexation.  CRA funds must be used on projects within the designated boundaries of the CRA that will benefit the community. CRAs do not place any new taxes on a property or within an area.  Instead, CRAs rely on Tax increment financing to fund the various community projects within a CRA and here’s an example of how it works:

  1.  A given piece of property generates $1,000 in tax revenue during a calendar year.
  2. After improvements or appreciation in value due to surrounding properties in the following year the same property generates $1,100 in tax revenue.
  3. The additional $100 generated is placed in a special fund and used specifically for the projects designated in the CRA.
  4. There are no tax breaks for property owners, rather the ad valorem portion of the tax is “frozen” and it is only the excess funds that can be used to help the designated area become a stronger part of the community which benefits the entire City.
Members of the Fernandina Beach City Commission and CRAAB members held a joint workshop in June 2013 to better understand the CRA as an economic development means.
Members of the Fernandina Beach City Commission and CRAAB members held a joint workshop in June 2013 to better understand the CRA as an economic development means.

As the Chairman of the CRA Advisory Board, I ask that our community Vote YES for approval of the ballot referendum on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 so we can begin the long process of getting projects funded that will serve to improve and enhance the beautiful place we live in.  Through this process we can plan for and put into action projects that will make our City more enjoyable for our residents and our guests.  We want nothing more than for Fernandina Beach to continue to thrive as an economic engine that creates jobs, activities and enhances the natural landscape that makes our island so special while preserving our neighborhoods and history.  Your YES Vote for approval on Tuesday, November 5, 2013 allows the City to fund needed projects which do just that-support our local economy by creating jobs and enhancing our natural and cultural heritage. For more information on CRA’s, our existing CRA, and how they are funded please visit www.fbfl.us/CRA.  Your participation is welcomed and encouraged at all board meetings, which are noticed on the city’s website calendar.

Mike Zaffaroni combines his business savvy with a strong service commitment to the community.  He is the owner of Fast Signs, Fernandina Mulch & Stone, and ProLine Motors. The Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce named him one of the Young Business Leaders of the Year for 2012.  He currently serves on the Chamber Board of Directors.  He has served as chair of the Community Redevelopment Area Advisory Board (CRAAB) since its inception last year.  Mike also served on the Board of Directors of the Amelia Island Blues Festival during the Festival’s first two years, and today he works as one of the Festival’s enthusiastic volunteers.

October 17, 2013 2:00 p.m.

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