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Councilman wants EDO director to lead CRA

By Staff | Oct 22, 2011

Cape Coral Councilmember Chris Chulakes-Leetz wants the city’s new economic development director to also serve as executive director for the Community Redevelopment Agency, a move that would eliminate most, if not all, of the current CRA staff members.

Chulakes-Leetz said the idea came from a citizen.

Chulakes-Leetz added he would be meeting next week with Dana Brunett, the new EDO director, to see if he had a taste for the assignment.

The council member said during a Thursday afternoon town hall that eliminating the CRA staff and its legal counsel, as well as bringing its operations back to city hall, would save money – possibly up to $240,000.

The CRA employs five full-time staff members, two attorneys on retainer, one code compliance officer and has one volunteer.

“I think we should bring those duties back to city hall maybe one staff member would remain,” he said Thursday.

“If we can save $240,000 and put that toward improvement in the CRA, we need to assess that,” he added.

Current CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen sat on a panel that helped to choose the new EDO director.

While he said he was honored to have served in that role, he declined comment on Chulakes-Leetz’s proposal.

City spokeswoman Connie Barron said Brunett had not heard of the proposal as of Thursday. Barron added that Brunett likely would reserve comment until he had the chance to discuss the matter with Chulakes-Leetz.

Councilmember Marty McClain, who also acts as liaison to the CRA, said he believes state statutes govern that the CRA office must be housed within the redevelopment area.

McClain said it’s also up to the CRA’s governing board to decide who should act as executive director.

“I don’t know if that’s his decision to make,” McClain said of Chulakes-Leetz.

CRA Attorney Robert Pritt could not be reached for comment.