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City Commission Work Session Minutes - June 23, 2022

Present Mayor Phil Anderson; Commissioners Marty Sullivan, Sheila DeCiccio, Kris Cruzada and Todd Weaver; Assistant City Manager Michelle del Valle; City Attorney Kurt Ardaman; City Clerk Rene Cranis.

Also Present Orange County CRA Representative Hal George (Virtual); Division Director of OMB Peter Moore and Assistant Division Director of CRA and Economic Development Kyle Dudgeon.

1) Call to Order Mayor Anderson called the meeting to order at 2:30 p.m.

2) Discussion Item(s)

a. CRA boundaries and time extension

Mayor Anderson suggested a four-point agenda for discussion: 1) recap of projects and funding through 2027; 2) other projects in the CRA not on the project list that might benefit from a time extension; 3) other projects near the CRA that may benefit from expansion; 4) areas where the work is done.

Mr. Dudgeon gave a presentation on the 2019 American Community Survey data including demographics of the CRA, the city, and Orange County; spending highlights, projects; affordable housing programs/projects; and growth rate history (Tax Increment Financing). He reviewed the 2022 Proforma sheet outlining projects amended in February 2022 and explained the provisions of the CRA plan, limitations, and potential county partnership programs. Discussion followed on the concept of CRA and potential TIF generated into the CRA, and funding for both city and county.

Mr. Dudgeon presented considerations and questions regarding whether the city needs more time to complete missions within current boundaries and whether there is an argument for boundary modifications which requires a compelling argument based on state statute’s findings of necessity. He provided information on the City of Winter Garden's CRA changes recently approved by Orange County and discussion followed.

Mr. Dudgeon responded to questions from Commissioner Weaver regarding staff’s opinion on where the city still lacks improvement within the CRA. He talked about leveraging funding for the greatest impact. He said that adding to the existing list of projects and understanding that funding is limited along with projects that may come up over the next five years, is a compelling argument for the city to continue investing.

Mayor Anderson asked that staff’s presentation be provided to the commission. He referred to the remaining projects and funding stating that there is approximately $1M in unallocated projected revenue and if boundaries are changed, it needs to be in an area where growth is anticipated. He supported the Fairbanks Avenue corridor as a CRA district but added that annexation is more important than CRA. He spoke of issues related to bad streets and drainage and suggested focusing on the annexation of the area first before considering it for CRA expansion. Commissioner Sullivan agreed and stated that it makes sense to extend out to Fairbanks, particularly if there is new development in that area.

Mayor Anderson asked what the city’s options might be if the Post Office is not willing to sell by 2027. Mr. Dudgeon reviewed the statute relating to CRA Budgets and depletion of CRA funds at the expiration of the CRA and stated the city has the ability to reallocate/amend the CRA budget. Discussion followed on allocated funding.

Commissioner Weaver asked about the time period for the submittal and approval by Orange County. Mr. Dudgeon said it could take up to a year to review the plan, build a compelling case and submit to Orange County for approval.

Commissioner Weaver talked about issues related to vacant, undeveloped or unmaintained land. He asked for Commission input on ways to combat blight and whether it would it include trees, bike paths, etc. as ways to stimulate property and business owners to improve their property.

Mayor Anderson spoke about attainable housing which he feels could be addressed by the Hannibal Square Land Trust and Habitat for Humanity.

Commissioner DeCiccio noted that the $1M of unallocated funds should be added as part of the upcoming budget discussion.

Commissioner Sullivan presented ideas to expand CRA’s northern boundary at Northwood Circle to make improvements such as sidewalks and streetlights, et al. and on the south end (Bank of the Ozarks property) for park space, Sunrail transit, and a roundabout at Orange Avenue. Commissioner DeCiccio added that all of Orange Avenue should be included because of the need for bike paths, sidewalks, and other improvements on Orange Avenue from the Ninth-Grade Center to 17-92 and Mead Garden. Commissioner Cruzada would like to add the property along Monroe Avenue.

Mayor Anderson spoke on connectivity to parks and neighborhoods: Margaret Square to 17-92, Progress Point to MLK to Mead Garden, and Progress Point to the Ninth-Grade Center. Commissioner Weaver added that there are apartments along Bennett Avenue on the west side that could use sidewalks up to Monroe and Margaret Square. Mayor Anderson summarized that there is an agreement regarding connected paths.

Assistant City Manager Michelle del Valle gave an update on the OAO challenge and stated that the judge found in the city's favor recommending to the Department of Economic Opportunity that the comprehensive plan amendment be found in compliance with State law.

Mayor Anderson spoke about the vo-tech property stating that Orange County's intended use is unknownand advocated adding the parcel as an alternative location for the industrial part of the post office. He asked if CRA funds could be used for school programs. Mr. Dudgeon noted that OCSB parcels do not pay into TIF, but would review the rules. Mayor Anderson suggested extending social programs even though there will be no CRA funds from the project.

Commissioner Weaver spoke about connectivity related to the Denning bike path and suggested the path go up to railroad tracks.

Mr. Moore stated that there is no rule on boundaries. The city will have to have provide justification and benefit for an expansion and connectivity, stormwater improvements, technology, and education are good reasons for an extension. He spoke about different programs and projects in the district that would benefit from an extension.

Commissioner Weaver stated that he understands the commission wants contiguous boundaries but asked if some parcels can be removed, citing the example of whether Park Avenue would be modified again after New York Avenue is finished. Mr. Dudgeon stated that he would not recommend enclaves in the district. Discussion followed on funding, negotiating, what can be accomplished and the city’s approach.

Mayor Anderson said that programs for home purchase assistance, Hannibal Square Land Trust expansion, land value out of ownership, rebuild, stormwater, technology, Central Park train expansions, and public restrooms can be considered. Mr. Moore stated there is latitude for these things to be accomplished with the understanding that there are capital dollars being spent in a CRA that aren't supporting general fund operation. He expressed concern that if there is no penny sales tax or new revenue source to fund projects that currently can be funded by the CRA, there may not be revenue to fund the projects. Ms. del Valle stated that projects would have to be done at a slower pace because the revenue will transfer, minus the county component.

Commissioner Weaver feels the Old Library could be an excellent social component. He is waiting to for the results of the Old Library RFP. After discussion, it was noted that this will be addressed in the August as part of the CRA budget discussion.

Mayor Anderson addressed the areas where the work has been done and asked the commission if there is an area west of 17-92 they feel the work may not be done.

Commissioner Weaver feels the area along Bennett up to Lee Road (west of but not including Ravaudage) should be considered. He proposed a hypothetical scenario where Tranquil Terrace, next to the Patmos Chapel, needs to be replaced. He asked what happens to the Tranquil Terrace land if CRA funds are used to rebuild Tranquil Terrace on the Patmos Chapel site. Mr. Dudgeon said it depends on how the purchase is structured. If CRA funds are used for purchasing land and then resold, that money goes back into the CRA. He used the old bowling alley site on Harper and Fairbanks as an example.

Mayor Anderson summarized the discussion said that staff will consolidate the discussion into a "wish list" to be discussed at the budget and CRA budget meetings. Mr. Moore noted that when updating a CRA Plan, a financial report has to be provided outlining funding, expenditures, and programs.

Commissioner DeCiccio asked if the consensus is to extend the CRA. Commissioner Weaver feels extending is needed to be able to complete projects.

Mayor Anderson suggested having a discussion of what a 10-year extension entails, focusing on large capital projects such as Margaret Square, Tranquil Terrace, potential land acquisitions (i.e. Ozark Bank), and social programs. Mr. Moore talked about items to consider for an extension. He briefly addressed minority business incubators and a discussion followed on incubator programs and locations for those businesses.

Mayor Anderson left the meeting at 3:55.

Commissioner Weaver asked if there is a time-sensitive issue related to the Bank of the Ozarks property. Commissioner Sullivan stated that the property is in flux and discussed cost and question of ownership. Commissioner Weaver is interested and would like an expansion of underground stormwater for Progress Point. He feels the city has a responsibility for regional treatment. Mr. Moore stated that it is not feasible to consider a purchase of the property with CRA funds based on the timeline and working with the County on the extension. Discussion followed on strategy and timeline.

The meeting adjourned at 3:58 p.m.

Posted to on October 14, 2022.

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