The CRA & Hallandale
Hallandale Beach CRA held its monthly meeting last week. The CRA is and has always been a separate agency.
Hallandale Beach CRA held its monthly meeting last week. The CRA is and has always been a separate agency. The district is set up by state statute and is similar to the two other taxing districts on our city boundaries. It is governed by a separate board of directors and established for specific purposes.
Our CRA has been the topic of many press articles over the past year since the Inspector General received an anonymous complaint on various issues in our CRA. Regretfully, we still have not received a final report from the IG yet, so once again I cannot comment on any past history. I, along with the rest of our board, am looking forward to the IG’s conclusion of his investigation, which has been ongoing since last April.
Contrary to the ongoing investigation, our CRA continues to provide many successful programs that we have provided in the past; Neighborhood Improvement Loans, Affordable Housing Down Payment Grants, Hurricane Shutter Grants and Community Partnership Grants. All these programs still fit within the goals and objective of our CRA goals.
This past meeting the BOD had an item on the agenda to approve grants to many non-profit agencies in our community. Unfortunately, the item had to be deferred. It was found that that CRA staff had not confirmed all the information submitted on the grants as accurate and up to date. The two new Directors Lazzarow and Julian asked for more time to research the grant items. This, too, was regretfully due to incomplete agenda that was presented before the CRA Advisory Board even held their meeting to review the applications. This item will come before the board again in January.
The BOD also heard a presentation on the affordable housing study that was requested early last year. The housing study needed to be updated since so many changes have taken place in the housing market since 2008. The study revealed that we need to begin a better focus on maintaining our rental housing stock. With a large amount of rentals, these units get the most wear and without maintenance and further investment the stock will deteriorate.
The study also recommended establishing a CLT Community Land Trust to land bank and work towards a partnership with the CLT to manage housings. The board raised many questions as to why we needed to create another agency since the CRA already performs land banking, housing grants and has already worked on buying units and rehabilitating them for future ownership.
The study also suggested focusing on code enforcement and property maintenance issues throughout the CRA. The BOD accepted the report and agreed we would discuss the study further during a specific visioning session. The BOD will schedule a vision meeting to set goals for the coming budget year.
The Executive Director brought the item forward asking for an addition 9,000 dollars to complete the next phase. The BOD was upset that Mr. Jackson would move forward and commit to additional work without coming to the board first. The initial study was 23,000 and this amount would have triggered RFP process. The BOD found out during the discussion that FAU already did 3,000 dollars’ worth of the work. The BOD agreed to pay for what work was performed but no more.
The BOD also heard an item I brought forward to ratify the hiring of Gray Robinson as legal counsel for the CRA. The CRA follows the same purchasing procedures as the city. This provides the proper checks and balances for expenditures. The CRA BOD budgeted for legal services, but Mr. Jackson never brought it forward during the budget process.
The last item was a discussion of Mr. Jackson’s employment contract. At the last monthly meeting I asked that Mr. Jackson be terminated. Mr. Jackson’s contract allows for termination with cause or without cause. The motion to fire with cause would put into motion a hearing procedure. At the hearing all items that were at issue would be brought up and deliberated. At that meeting I did not receive a second.
At this meeting I asked for termination without cause. As per the contract, Mr. Jackson would receive a severance of insurance for 9 months and a salary of twenty weeks. The BOD debated the item for quite sometime. I asked for the termination due to many factors. Mr. Jackson did work over the past two years rewriting the CRA and creating many new documents.
The problems I found were with lack of projects moving forward. I also took issue with the lack of communication on the daily activities of the CRA. There were also specific missteps over the past year that may have gone undetected if it was not for City Staff following up or me being at City Hall on a daily basis. It was after discussions with the CRA attorney since there still could have been a motion to terminate with cause, which would trigger a hearing. The choice was with or without cause. After the debate it was agreed on a 3-2 vote that Mr. Jackson would be terminated without cause.
As we wind down 2012 I hope all our friends and neighbors had a wonderful Christmas. Happy Healthy Holidays!
As always please feel free to contact me anytime with your questions and concerns at office 954-457-1318, cell 954-632-5700 or email me at www.mayorjoycooper.com