Riviera CRA to seek $216,399 loan from city to pay consultant

RIVIERA BEACH The Community Redevelopment Agency voted Wednesday night to ask the city for a $216,399 loan to cover the cost of a California consultant hired to lead negotiations with developers in the $2.4 billion waterfront redevelopment.

The board also voted to enter into an agreement where the city would cover up to $8 million in bonds on behalf of the CRA. The bonds, which are held by Wachovia Bank, come due July 5.

 

Both requests must still be approved by the city council, which also sits as the CRA board. The requests  underscore the difficulties facing the CRA as it works to redevelop 400 acres of mostly blight into a dazzling waterfront.

Last month, in a narrow decision, the CRA and the city council voted to hire consultant Bernard Kinsey at a cost of $3,000 per day. The deal requires the CRA and the city to split his costs.

Kinsey's hire has been controversial and created a faction in the CRA, which played out in the initial vote on the loan. The first vote Wednesday ended in a 2-2 tie, with CRA board member Vanessa Lee absent.

The tie vote meant the request failed. CRA board members Ann Iles and Norma Duncombe voted for the measure, but Jim Jackson and Liz Wade voted against it.

In past votes, Lee, Duncombe and Jackson were the majority votes that approved Kinsey's contract. Wade and Iles haven't backed Kinsey, a West Palm Beach native and former Xerox executive.

However, out of confusion, Jackson voted Wednesday night against getting the loan to pay Kinsey. Iles, as the CRA board chairwoman, realized the initial vote would have left the CRA owing Kinsey $216,399.

After talking with the CRA's legal team, Iles called for a second vote, in which Jackson changed his vote and the loan request was passed. The loan brings the CRA's debt to the city to $1.8 million.

Wade said confusion over the vote shows that the CRA board members pushing for Kinsey's contract aren't aware of its financial consequences on the CRA.

CRA figures show the agency has spent $984,436 on consultants since Oct. 1, the beginning of the budget year. That is $234,436 over the $750,000 the agency budgeted for consultants in the fiscal year that ends in September.