Minutes after members of the W192 Development Authority approved new sign standards for the 15-mile corridor, Chairman Mark Miller proposed a radical shift in the authority's initial 6-year timeline.
"I think we need to put the pedal to the metal," Miller said as he pitched the idea of the county issuing revenue bonds to pay for the sign replacement for the entire corridor. The development authority, which acts as community redevelopment agency for the district, doesn't have the legal ability to issue revenue bonds. The board can ask that the Board of County Commissioners issue the bonds and apply a percentage of the district tax increment to retire the debt.
I think we could change the face of 192 dramatically in the next 24 months.
Mark Miller, Chairman of W192 Development Authority
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The authority already has $1 million earmarked in its FY 2016 budget to pay for sign replacements on a first-come first-served basis in segment 2 - the tourism district. The board originally planned to phase in the sign requirements over six years.
"My thought in doing this would be to get it done as rapidly as possible in bonding the money," Miller said. "My thought would be that we open up all three sections at the same time."
The district stretches 15 miles along US 192 from Hoagland Avenue in Kissimmee to the Osceola County line, which encompasses most of Kissimmee's tourism corridor. Miller believes a $10 million to $12 million bond issue would cover the costs of replacing all the pole signs with monument signs.
"I think we could do the vast majority of signs in the first 18 months," Miller said. "I think we could change the face of 192 dramatically in the next 24 months."
Marsha Segal-George, attorney for the authority, said the amount of the bond issue could potentially increase if commissioners agree to include funding for a facade grant and demolition program. "The bond would continue even if the development authority sunsets after 10 years," she said.
Authority members voiced unanimous support for implementing a facade grant program as well as a demolition program, and Miller said he would ask for a formal vote at the next meeting to establish those programs.