What is the Difference?

 Clint Fowlkes

West Palm Beach Downtown Neighborhood Association

   Our Association is the West Palm Beach Downtown Neighborhood Association or DNA. We are strictly a volunteer group of residents and other people who love to be involved in our neighborhood. There are over 100 Neighborhood Associations in the City of West Palm Beach that were formed to provide an additional line of communication, on behalf of the residents, to the Mayor's Office and the City Commission. Although the downtown is quite old, our Association is new because of the fairly recent migration of residents to the recently built condominiums in the area. We are not a part of the City or the CRA, but we do currently have a modest co-sponsorship agreement with the DDA to help fund some of our membership events that enhance and coincide with the general goals of the DDA on behalf of the residents.

   The Downtown Development Authority or DDA is an independent special taxing district that was established by the Florida Legislature in late 60's at the request of the City of West Palm Beach to revitalize the downtown area. Because it is a separate entity and not strictly part of the City, it can levy up to 2 mills in ad valorem taxes against downtown property owners. The rate has actually been 1 mill for the past several years and it has its own line on the annual property tax bill. The general obligation of the DDA is to formulate a long term plan for improving property values and developing the downtown area, recommend the best way to implement the plan to the Mayor and to downtown businesses and residents and then take suitable actions to accomplish it. So the DDA is both an advocate to the City on behalf of the downtown residents and businesses and an entity with the funding to get things done within the downtown area. The Mayor appoints the members of the DDA board when their terms expire and the Mayor can assign special projects to the DDA with its consent.  

   The Community Redevelopment Agency or CRA was established by the Florida Legislature at the request of the City of West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County in the early 90's to encourage redevelopment and remedy blight in the Downtown West Palm Beach District. They have an equal responsibility for a second district of West Palm Beach that includes the Northwood area. The unique thing about a CRA in Florida is that it is not a separate taxing authority. Instead, it receives tax dollars generated from the increase in property values after the CRA was established. The result is that tax money received from the increased property values in the downtown district will continue to be focused on that same downtown district and not elsewhere in the City. Since the CRA receives tax funds from the County, the City and the DDA, it does not have its own line on the annual ad valorem property tax bill.

   Because the City, the CRA and the DDA each have different levels of responsibility in the downtown district, they have always worked very closely together. By a special agreement, the DDA actually implements specific City and CRA projects like the trolley service, the Clematis Streetscape program, increased security and various business incentive programs among others. Also through that agreement the DDA receives tax funds from the CRA to implement its own annual work plan. 

   As the Downtown Neighborhood Association, we only exist to further the interests of downtown West Palm Beach residents, through our volunteer efforts, as we work with the City, the CRA and the DDA. Sometimes we'll already have answers to questions you may ask and sometimes we'll go to the right source to get the questions answered. Please join us by becoming members, joining committees, attending our events and becoming friends with others as we create this downtown community together.


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