This is the week of Passover and Easter and nearly everyone, regardless of their religious beliefs or practices, understand it's a time for renewal. We are forgiven for past errors and get to start over during Easter and Passover. That is kinda what happened yesterday at a five hour workshop at the County Commissioners office. Two newly elected commissioners, Isnardi and Tobia, who are vivisecting budgets looking for money for roads, want to kill CRAs, a funding set aside dedicated to economic renewal and reinvestment in areas designated as blighted. That includes EGAD.
It's this simple--the county authorizes a city to create a CRA, a defined area that is deemed to be blighted and, without help, will be an underperforming economic entity; a drag on everybody. It starts with assigning a "base year" value on the real estate. Over time, that value increases within that defined area by good fortune and investment. Now you have an "incremental" value, an increase from the base year. Multiply that incremental figure by the tax rate (city and county millage rates) and then multiply that by 95% and, voila, you have yourself some money that wasn't there before, money that was derived and earned directly from the work and investment happening within the CRA. That money is reinvested back into the defined area (the CRA) and, before you know it, Bob's your uncle, and more investment is happening. The ripple effect of even one investment is exponential thus increasing its value even more so. Over time, a blighted area is now a vibrant, hoppin' place to be. New businesses contribute to the overall tax base so it's an incredible win-win for a community and the only proven tool for economic redevelopment in the entire country. Fortunately, the other commissioners were able to vote down Isnardi and Tobia. The local cities with CRAs (all of them) provided overwhelming evidence of the impact of the CRA.
EGAD's CRA was formed in 2000, and the CRA repaired the library dock and built Eau Gallie Square and band shell in partnership with Eau Gallie Rotary. It expanded slightly in 2010 and the new main street program started. The real estate appreciation has been over $20 million, and we're just starting. This year, the CRA installed new trash cans, benches and bicycle racks. Next year, we will receive new street lights and cafe lighting over part of Highland Avenue. Over a dozen new businesses have opened doors and some of those have expanded already. The demand for space is hot and steady. Plus, we throw one mean First Friday and will be installing more murals this December.
Since the beach is dangerous right now, come to EGAD. The water's fine and the only shark is painted onto a wall.