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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Sep. 22, 2021 4 months ago

Winter Garden votes to extend CRA

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City commissioners also will hold the final hearing for the 2021-22 budget Sept. 29.
by: Jim Carchidi Former Associate Editor

Winter Garden took another step toward finalizing its next fiscal plan with the second of three budget hearings during its Sept. 15 City Commission meeting.

Commissioners approved ordinances appropriating and allocating all revenue from the city’s General Fund and Community Redevelopment Agency for Fiscal Year 2021-22.

Dispersement from the General Fund is anticipated at $45,788,272 including ad valorem revenue of $19,039,702, while CRA funds of $1,887,213 include ad valorem income of $937,648.

City Manager Mike Bollhoefer discussed a CRA pledge of $500,000 for capital projects, primarily dedicated to the redevelopment of 10th and Center streets.

“We don’t know exactly what the projects will be or how much; sometime in the future those projects will be brought to the commission, and they’ll vote on them at that time,” Bollhoefer said. “It’s sort of like a placeholder; there’s $500,000 set aside for capital projects for 10th and Center, we have a general idea of what we want to do, we just have to figure it out in detail.”

Additional projects for the next fiscal year include an expansion of the city’s pickleball courts, because of the game’s popularity among residents. Pickleball combines elements of badminton, table tennis and tennis that can be played on a small court.

A spay-and-neuter program also will be part of the 2021/22 fiscal plan and will include the catch and release of stray animals.

“The difficulty with those programs is finding people that are willing, long-term, to do the catch and release,” Bollhoefer said. “The spay and neutering is easy — we can find vets. It’s the catch-and-release part that’s hard.”

After the regular business agenda, the meeting dispensed as the City Commission and reconvened as the Community Redevelopment Agency to hear a resolution recommending the extension of the CRA to 2033 with 75% of the resulting earnings to be spent the redevelopment of east Winter Garden with the other 25% to be spent anywhere in the CRA.

The CRA was created in 1992 and is scheduled to “sunset” in 2023. The extension is estimated to generate $20 million over the 10-year period, but that number could be as high as $30 million, according to Bollhoefer. 

“When you establish a CRA the only revenues you get are increment revenues,” he said. “So it’s all based on the fact (that) as you invest in the community, your property values go up.”

The resolution was passed and requires a vote by the county. The final hearing for the 2021-22 budget will be held during the Sept. 29 City Commission meeting.

 

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Jim Carchidi was an associate editor for the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. 

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