The Zephyrhills Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) Board has approved a budget of $578,244 for fiscal year 2020-2021 — and identified a number of priority projects.
The project is an increase of $91,234 over last year’s $478,010 budget.
The increase is primarily due to greater revenues collected from ad valorem taxes from the city and Pasco County. Those revenues came in at $426,470, compared to $319,031 last year.
The remainder of the CRA budget is made up of reserves for future projects ($150,174) and miscellaneous revenue ($1,600) from interest and reimbursements from Zephyrhills Main Street Inc.
The CRA board unanimously approved the budget, which then was passed through the Zephyrhills City Council. (Although it is a separate board, the CRA board is made up of members of the Zephyrhills City Council.)
Funds will be allocated to projects within the city’s 500-plus acre CRA district, which generally encompasses the center spine of the city, between Hercules Park to C Avenue, and from Zephyr Park to 17th Street.
Priority projects include:
- Hercules Park upgrades
- Sidewalk improvement, in partnership with the city’s public works department
- Lake Necessity improvements
- Installation of public artwork and artistic connections, such as murals, from Fifth Avenue through downtown side streets
- Incentives for development opportunities and growth in the CRA
Meanwhile, the budget funds existing grant programs and incentives, such as residential grants (façade, paint, homeownership) and commercial grants (façade, signage).
Zephyrhills CRA Director Gail Hamilton detailed the success of assorted grant programs, noting the agency last year distributed seven homeownership grants, which set a record for new homes purchased within the district in any given year.
The homeownership grant provides $5,000 to new homeowners in the district. It requires a homeowner to apply before purchasing and closing, and file for the homestead exemption for five years.
Funding also is allocated to continue the Saturday neighborhood clean-up improvement program, which was shuttered for much of this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staff expects to restart the program in 2021, Hamilton said.
Elsewhere, the agency has multiple outstanding approved projects budgeted from 2019-2020 that simply will be rolled over to the new budget year.
That includes installing signage posts and frames along Fifth Avenue, from Zephyr Park to Ninth Street. The CRA initially struggled getting bids for the project, as manufacturers shut down or scaled back amid the pandemic.
“Factories are up now, so we can get that project finished,” Hamilton said.
In conjunction with that, the CRA agency currently is consulting with Kimley-Horn planning/engineering firm on developing concepts and modifications for gateway signage, hammering out desired styles and exact locations, such as the prime U.S. 301/Fifth Avenue intersection.
The idea is to give residents and visitors directions to shopping and dining “to draw people down Fifth Avenue,” Hamilton said.
The gateway signage requires the approval of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), as it falls under CAF (Community Aesthetic Features) installed in or on the right of way, Hamilton said.
Sprucing up downtown landscaping is another ongoing project that shifted into this year. It involves tidying up circular medians and installing pots, benches and chairs that match existing light poles and trash cans throughout.
Published October 21, 2020