Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

One Down, One to Go | City-County Assessments Deal Should Spur CRA Agreement

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

One Down, One to Go | City-County Assessments Deal Should Spur CRA Agreement

Article excerpt

OUR VIEW

Sarasota city and county have reached an agreement on disputed fire-services assessments without going to court.

That shouldn't be remarkable, but, given the long list of contentious affairs between the two local governments, any agreement is worth noting.

Yet even the fire-assessment deal was only made after the city sued the county.

Rather than contest the lawsuit, the county signed off on a settlement acknowledging that 13 city-owned properties at the center of the dispute are solely for government use and not subject to county assessments. The City Commission is expected to approve the settlement at a meeting on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, even with this proposed settlement in hand, the city is considering whether to file another lawsuit against the county -- this one over a final payment to the city's Community Redevelopment Agency.

We hope this other disagreement, too, can be resolved without going to court -- preferably without the city filing suit.

That's the way elected bodies, supported by taxpayers, are supposed to settle their differences. But given the record of county- city disputes -- not only about assessments but over use of public property, addressing homelessness and other vital issues -- we're not optimistic.

Besides, the stakes are higher in the CRA argument. The city claims that the county owes a final payment of $4.8 million on the 30-year CRA contract, while the fire-services assessments totaled less than $40,000.

As we've stated previously, the city makes a reasonable case that the county owes one more payment on the CRA contract, which expires this year.

The contract provided that county and city taxes raised in downtown Sarasota and the Newtown area would be invested in redevelopment projects in those communities.

As noted, the contract was for 30 years, yet the county has made only 29 payments, which suggests that it owes one more. …

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