Kevin Wiatrowski and Mike Salinero write in this morning's Tampa Tribune (sorry, link not available) that Hillsborough County is making moves to reclaim property taxes the city of Tampa has been enjoying the last few decades in the form of its community redevelopment areas (CRA). Also known as a tax-increment financing (TIF), these regions re-invest locally a portion of county tax dollars when property values in that neighborhood rise.
"Ideally, it's not going to be a case going forward where we continue to put 100 percent into the tax increment area," county manager Mike Merrill told the Trib.
The Downtown Tampa CRA has also been the preferred funding mechanism for any potential new Rays stadium discussions, capable of financing up to $150 million in bonds over the course of the next 30 years. (Not enough to fund a stadium, but its a start)
And while the county may ultimately think a baseball stadium is a good use of those dollars too, it stresses a point made on this blog a few months back: potential stadium dollars might be better-used elsewhere. Transit proponents, the Sheriff's office, school district, county transportation department, and parks & rec department are just a few of the hungry hands hoping for a few more dollars.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn made it clear the city would prefer to keep control of the millions of CRA dollars each year. But in the county's view, county property tax dollars are county property tax dollars. And as much as it says it is committed to community redevelopment too, the county wants the freedom to spend its tax dollars in other ways, if it so chooses.