On November 7, the Blueprint IA Board held a meeting and discussed a report to consider the use of local sales tax revenue for affordable housing. Staff prepared the report at the direction from the Board at a previous meeting.
The report recommends not using sales tax revenue for affordable housing at this time because the limited funds are committed for other economic development projects intended to create jobs, and this use of the revenue would require an amendment to the Interlocal Agreement after public hearings.
Board member Jack Porter made a motion to accept the report and to move forward with the substantial amendment process to include affordable housing as an element the Board may fund.
Board members Bill Proctor and Curtis Richardson both explained they would not support the motion. They noted issues such as not having enough access to land and wanting to fulfill the projects that were voted on in the previous election.
However, Board member Dianne Williams-Cox stated, “I would like to see us look at projects that might have a little money left over, that might need a little reallocation somewhere and see if we can use some of those dollars to help us.”
Williams-Cox asked Porter if she would amend her motion to focus on infrastructure dollars rather than looking into economic development (Porter accepted the amendment).
Board member David O’Keefe expressed the importance of having affordable rental housing to support our growing City and noted, “Those folks that are homeless, that are working, living outside of Walmart, those folks that are struggling to pay rent, they also pay those sales taxes every time they buy stuff.” He continued, “I think that their trust in us, for next time, may be the strongest when they see a more direct benefit.”
Additionally, Board member Rick Minor noted the Board needed to proceed with caution on this issue since the voters did not vote for Blueprint dollars to go toward affordable housing. He then asked to make an amendment to the motion for an economic analysis from staff to figure out what type of project would provide to Blueprint in terms of ROI which is typically 6 to 1.
Porter accepted the amendment.
Mayor John Daily said he would not support the motion, and made a separate motion to accept the report. Board member Christian Caban noted that while he supports affordable housing, he has a different solution in mind. He explained that the Board needed to look at the Comprehensive Plan and make sure current zoning allows builders and developers the opportunity to increase density in the urban areas of town. Caban noted the affordable housing project could affect other important projects voters have voted on. Additionally, Caban supported Daily’s motion.
After discussion, Daily withdrew his substitute motion, and the Board passed a Porter’s motion to accept the report and to initiate the substantial amendment process to include affordable housing infrastructure as an element the Board may fund.
Mayor Dailey, City Commissioner Richardson, and Leon County Commissioner Caban voted against the item.