CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE
ADS AT BOTTOM of
COMMUNITY YARD SALES, BELOW CHAMBER ADS
Chamber and city at
standstill for house sale
Cedar Key CRA not quite as dire
as once thought
Cedar Key CRA Attorney Norm Fugate (left) looks at the City Commission as Cedar
Key Police Chief (and CRA Public Works Director) Virgil Sandlin looks at a
report. Sandlin told the City Commission about storm water sewer maintenance
that is planned.
Story and Photo
By Jeff M. Hardison © March 5, 2014
CEDAR KEY -- The Cedar Key Community
Redevelopment Agency (CRA) and the Cedar Key Chamber of Commerce are at a
standstill in regard to the Chamber potentially buying the Creswell House,
according to what was shared at the Tuesday night (March 4) regular monthly
meeting of the CRA.
Apparently there was some representation made to the
CRA in February by Chamber of Commerce Vice President George Oakley that the
Chamber was possibly interested in buying the Creswell House, which is the
Chamber’s Office on Second Street. Currently, the Chamber rents it from the
Chamber President Bill Heckler said he had not spoken
with Oakley and the other directors about the potential purchase yet. There was
mention that if the city sold the building to the non-profit group, there may
be property taxes that must be paid on it.
City Commissioner Sue Colson, City Commissioner Scott
Dennison and City Commissioner Tina Ryan all said they would vote against the
city selling the property. Colson also expressed her opinion that it is in the
city's best interest to keep the property it currently owns.
Beyond that, the sale of the house, if it occurred
would have to be open to other buyers. And if the Chamber did buy the house,
but then went belly-up as have the Chambers of Commerce in Fanning Springs and
Bronson, then the ownership of the property was unclear, as of Tuesday
There was some commentary that it might revert to
become the property of the state of Florida.
Rather than tabling the matter again for a month, the
CRA chose to remove it from consideration until or if the Chamber decides that
it wants to buy the house and property. Then, the city would have to consider
allowing other interested buyers know the property was on the market for
CRA Budget News
The CRA has planned to completely review its budget
during the April 1 meeting.
After Robert McCabe and his brother Ron McCabe, CPA,
brought up the issue of possible default by the city on a municipal bond, the
financial standing of the CRA was discussed at the Tuesday night meeting.
While the Cedar Key Community Redevelopment Area (and
agency) seems bound to reach a point where it must stretch out payment in the
last part of its required repayment of a municipal bond, the situation appears
to be slightly less dire on March 4 than it did at the previous meeting,
according to what was said at the March 4 meeting.
CRA Chairman Dale Register took the bull by the
horns and applied red ink to a previous printout to show projected CRA revenue
and expenditure figures are different -- as of the March 4 revisions.
Cedar Key CRA Attorney Norm Fugate helped the audience
understand, too, that just as CRA Chairman Register had said at the most
immediate previous CRA meeting, the town coffers are insulated. The Cedar Key
CRA and the city of Cedar Key are two different entities.
Fugate created a memorandum, supported by other
documents to show that the $9.2 million Cedar Key CRA Revenue Note of 2007 was
part of a bond validation proceeding, where then-Circuit Court Judge David
The CRA attorney explained this procedure occurs
because neither Sun Trust nor any bank wants to make a loan of that size
without assurance it will be repaid.
The final judgment validated the findings presented at
the time, Fugate said.
The final judgment shows the bank can only accept for
payment the Tax Increment Funding (TIF), which is generated by the ad valorem
property taxes collected by the Levy County Tax Collector on millage adopted by
the Levy County Commission and the Cedar Key City Council. Property taxes paid
to the Levy County School District and Suwannee River Water Management District
are not part of the TIF for the CRA.
Another revenue stream for the county -- special
assessments for EMS and fire service – is not part of the TIF used to pay off
the CRA debt either.
The CRA issued the note, Fugate said, not the city.
Therefore, the city's coffers are separate and not able to be tapped by Sun
Trust Bank for the repayment of this municipal bond.
Fugate said he sees the situation for the Cedar Key
CRA as being similar to that of other CRAs in Florida, as well as in other
states of the United States.
Another question the CRA attorney answered involves
the “shrinking fund.”
Since property values declined and millage rates did
not increase to a point to equalize the revenue from property taxes, this means
that since 2007, the TIF has dropped -- which was not anticipated.
Register revised figures he used during a July 3, 2013
Joining Register on Tuesday night as members of the
CRA were Gene Hodges, Sue Colson, Tina Ryan, and Scott Dennison.
Ron McCabe, a Certified Public Accountant, and his
brother Robert McCabe, another Cedar Key resident, last month had addressed the
CRA leaders about the continuing decline of funds from an account that was
created from a municipal bond in relation to the TIF generated by the
Cedar Key CRA Attorney Fugate spoke about the
The Cedar Key CRA created the “sinking fund” of $1.1
million through a resolution that was adopted Oct. 5, 2010.
That money was derived, Fugate said, by the city
obtaining grant funds and other revenue sources, as well as seeing expenditures
below what had been budgeted.
Sun Trust Bank agreed with the CRA’s choice to set
aside those funds for part of the repayment of the $9.2 million municipal bond.
Those funds for partial repayment were exhausted with the April 15, 2012
payment to Sun Trust Bank, Fugate said.
Register reiterated that the City of Cedar Key has no
obligation whatsoever to repay the $9.2 million municipal revenue bond’s
principal or interest. Payments to Sun Trust Bank, he said again, are from the
That $9.2 million revenue bond paid for $4.2 million
worth of street paving an related utility improvements from 2008 through 2010;
$599,580 for Conservation Land Acquisition; $500,000 for the Museum Building
Improvements; the $350,000 Crestwell House and Property Acquisition; $300,000
for Park Acquisition and Improvements; $240,000 for Parking Improvements;
$150,000 for a Fire-Rescue Boat; $70,000 for Pocket Parks and Street Ends; and
$15,000 for an FM Emergency Radio. There was a $60,000 cost of issuance; as
well as $250,000 capitalized interest on new money portion of notes; and a
refund of outstanding debt of $2.3 million.
Register showed the people that the ending
balance of the Cedar Key CRA as of Sept. 30, 2013 was $483,265 rather than
$464,268. A series of calculations after that went through 2014-15, but in the
end, there is still no sign of operations funding after 2016, and the bond
payment planned for completion in 2027 may take until 2030 or longer to pay
Register said an economic recovery and increased
property values in Cedar key might change the projected future of the CRA’s
ability to pay off the municipal bond it floated for revenue in 2007.
To see the previous story, please click HERE.
County Honors Forester
Lynetta Usher Griner was honored by the Levy County Commission on Tuesday
morning (March 4) when Commission Chairman Ryan Bell read a declaration and the
commission joined Griner and her husband Ken Griner for a photo opportunity.
Seen here are (from left) Commissioner Mike Joyner, Commissioner Chad Johnson,
Bell, Commissioner Danny Stevens, Lynetta Usher Griner, Commissioner John Meeks
and Ken Griner. Ms. Griner mentioned that she endorses people using paper and
paper products to help tree farmers. Trees are like any other crop, she said.
Chairman Bell mentioned that Ms. Griner was honored by the Florida Department
of Agriculture by being placed in its Hall of Fame and that she is the
first-ever female president of the Florida Forestry Association (see previous
story by clicking HERE).
Photo by Jeff M.
Saturday (March 1) marked the beginning of the
Cedar Key Lions 8th year of Adopt-a-Highway pickup along State Route 24
entering Cedar Key. Members of the Lions Club collected 110 pounds of trash on
this first quarterly outing of 2014. Seen here are Sarah and Lannie Cardona,
and in the bottom photo Larry Feldman, Eileen Bowers, Frank Molitor and Bob
Piscura. (Not pictured, but collecting litter nonetheless, are Rory
Brennan and Dick Wescott.)
Photos by Rory
Tricia Turner (above)said the tellers of the Capital City Bank Team from
Gilchrist County were raising funds each year by waiting on tables at The Brick
Grill in Dixie County. Now that the restaurant is no longer open, they had to
find a new method to host a fundraiser for the March of Dimes.
So they had a big event on Saturday (March 1) with live music, lunch specials,
popcorn, cotton candy, raffles and a favorite car contest. There were show
cars, especially from the Tri-County Cruisers, race cars (including Turner's
#5) and motorcycles on display. The event was at the 19/98 Grill and Country
Store near Fanning Springs. This event brought in more than $1,000 for the
March of Dimes, Turner said.
No Never Mind
The band No Never Mind prepares to perform at the fundraiser for the March of
Dimes on Saturday. This band includes Bill Davis on guitar; Billy Careccia on
bass; Steven Meyer on drums; Randall Careccia on lead guitar; and Karen Morgan
Photos by Jeff M.
Stop Hunger Now
These photos capture a bit
of the action at Chiefland High School's Cafeteria on Saturday morning (March
1), as volunteers worked in an assembly line fashion to package 10,000 meals.
The Stop Hunger Now Meal Packaging Event seeks to assist in the effort to stop
hunger for school children in need around the world. This community effort
showed people from all age groups and from the diverse backgrounds of the area
all coming together to help. There was a job for volunteers of nearly every
age. First United Methodist Church, Chiefland in conjunction with 18 other
organizations enlisted volunteers. There were 77 volunteers, who packaged
10,152 meals in an hour and 15 minutes. To raise the initial $2,500 needed to
purchase the supplies, pumpkins were sold in the fall and a community dinner
and auction was held on Jan. 25. Excess funds were used toward purchase of
water filtration systems to go with the food. Organizations that were involved
in the packaging event included: First United Methodist-Chiefland, Bronson
United Methodist, Archer United Methodist, Hardeetown Baptist, VFW
5625-Chiefland, Amvets Post 42, Ladies Auxiliary-Amvets Post 42, Dixie County
HCE, Levy/Chiefland HCE, Whispering Winds 4-H, Miss Heart of the USA, Early
Learning Coalition – Nature Coast, Capital City Bank, Suncoast Credit Union,
Boy Scouts Troop 514, Herbalife, Levy County Schools Foundation, Children’s
Table, County Commissioner Chad Johnson and other individual volunteers.
Jeff M. Hardison
WED. MAR. 5 7:33 p.m.
Levy, Gilchrist, Dixie
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