City of Gainesville and Alachua County commissioners are in disagreement over a bill in the Florida House of Representatives.
The bill, proposed by Rep. Chuck Clemons in December, would allow county representation on the board of the Community Redevelopment Agency, which is currently not allowed, according to state law. Clemons said the county’s participation in decision making is lacking, considering it funds two-thirds of the agency.
“They have no seat at the table. I think that’s unjust,” he said.
The county commission has requested representation on the board of a city-run development agency before. The commission gave Clemons a list of three priorities, which included CRA representation.
The CRA develops areas that need help. Prior projects have included the DNA Bridge, Depot Park and 352Walls.
Alachua County Commissioner Ken Cornell said the county should have the option of board representation proportional to the funding the agency receives.
“I’m a firm believer in our Founding Fathers’ ‘no taxation without representation,’” Cornell said. “This is a way for the county to have representation.”
Gainesville City Commissioner David Arreola staunchly opposes the bill, which was filed without the City Commission’s knowledge, he said.
Arreola argues the bill leaves the door open for the county to take majority control of the board to influence certain policies. He feels the county went behind the city’s back, he said.
“If there is a project or a policy that is coming up that they want to dictate or control, they can use that stipulation in the bill to get majority control,” he said. “It’s a poison pill.”
The bill has already passed two committee hearings. The final hearing was delayed until after a Feb. 12 meeting between city and county commissioners.
Cornell hopes for compromise, but Arreola refuses to negotiate policy.
“If we’re going to reach a compromise, it is going to be on representation going forward and that new board will make the policy changes,” Arreola said.