Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New study finds public redevelopment investment creates 20x the amount of private redevelopment investment

Click title for explanation and more information on the study.  It looked at spending by Community Redevelopment Agencies (CRAs) from 2008 to 2013 in seven south Florida municipalities, not including Lake Worth.

What detractors of the CRA here in Lake Worth fail to understand is that CRA spending is meant to attract private investment that, in essence, helps fund the public improvements needed to support redevelopment.  Those infrastructure dollars, if they didn't come from the CRA, would have to be paid by regular local government funds.  One of the many fallacies spread around about the height referendum was that money from new development in the downtown area would be captured by the CRA and not be available for the city's general fund.  The same people went on to say that it would be the city that would be picking up the tab for infrastructure improvements necessary to support taller buildings.  No one has performed an empirical (one of Commissioner McVoy's favorite words) study showing the increased infrastructure burden added by two stories of additional potential building height.  And, eventually, once the CRAs obligations are met and redevelopment has occurred in critical areas - Dixie Hwy., hotels east of Federal for example - it can put itself out of business and then the property tax does eventually to the general fund.  Tax increment financing created by the CRA allows the city to capture dollars that would otherwise go to Palm Beach County government and keep that money in the city - to spur redevelopment and investment by paying for public infrastructure.

The CRA's strategic investments made to lure Publix so that we have a downtown grocery store and be home for the Palm Beach County Cultural Council all will have manifold returns on that investment in the form of jobs, economic activity and through addressing slum and blight conditions.  We need to get the thought out of some peoples' heads that redevelopment on Dixie Hwy. is a bad thing since it contributes nothing to the general fund.  Its current appearance weighs down the property values citywide, helping to contribute to the 2/3 loss of taxable value here in Lake Worth over the past years - roughly coinciding with the years of the referenced study.