Sunday, August 17, 2014

Infantini: No Tax Money For Merritt Island Mall

Trudie Infantini
Your property tax rate is sure to increase next year.  Commissioners will be diverting roughly 85% of new tax revenue increases to beautification projects and shopping malls in just 10% of the county.

Tuesday, August 19th, the Commissioners will vote to expand the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) boundary to encompass virtually all of Merritt Island’s commercially zoned property.  A CRA is designed to make improvements to blighted and slum areas. The greater Merritt Island area is a beautiful part of Brevard County.  Merritt Island is anything but blighted and slum-like. 

What does that means to you, the taxpayer, is tax revenue created by future appreciation on this property will all go toward that specific area.  Whereas, all other tax generated by property appreciation in the county goes to fund rising costs of government operations.  Government operations like emergency response personnel, over 50% of the sheriff’s budget, and a sizeable amount of parks and recreation operating budgets. The shortfall in the budget will come from just one place, your wallet. 

Here is an example how a CRA works:

$50 is needed for government operations; 5 commissioners will each pay $10 for $50 total. But one Commissioner creates a CRA and pays only $2 towards government operations.  The other four commissioners now have to pay $12 each to make up the deficit created by the one that is KEEPING their money to make improvements in their area alone.

In the example above you see the five commissioners represent the entire county and one commissioner represents the CRA beneficiaries. Regardless of where the money comes from $50 is needed for government operations.  The rate paid by everyone must increase since some of the proceeds will be diverted from the responsibilities of the government to fund the luxuries of a few.

What happened to prioritizing spending?  I was under the impression the lagoon was our number one concern, along with public safety and roads. The other commissioners voted to raise your storm water taxes 78% in April 2014, to cover the improvements to the lagoon. Why did they raise your taxes instead of reducing the funding to CRAs and the North Brevard Economic Development Zone (NBEDZ)?

I’ve written in the past about the North Brevard Economic Development Zone (NBEDZ) and the 6 million taxpayer dollars for the Titusville Miracle City Mall redevelopment. In comes the Merritt Island Redevelopment Agency, (MIRA).  MIRA is a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and was first established in 1988, and has expanded three times since inception; and now, MIRA wants a taxpayer funded ‘mall’ like NBEDZ is getting.  Chapter 6, page 6-9 of the proposed Merritt Island Redevelopment Plan Update specifically states:

“…The mall property has very little landscaping and the buildings are showing signs of age. A major facelift or a complete redesign of this significant property would go a long way in the esthetic enhancement…”   

CRA’s continue to siphon General Fund and fire tax dollars that could, and should, be used to fund essential services. I know the owners of the mall will be happy with this vote. Will you?

You know my position; please contact your commissioners to voice your position.


Mary Bolin Lewis, District 4