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Old 03-08-2011, 12:13 PM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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Default The fight begins over Redevelopment funds in Calif Cities.

Cities are now fighting over who did what and with what. It's time to pay the piper. Redevelopment money was like a slush fund and the rules were very lax. Now the fighting will begin over the few bones that are left since all the meat is gone.

State controller highly critical of redevelopment agencies
The battle over redevelopment in California intensified Monday.
State Controller John Chiang released a review of 18 redevelopment agencies that concluded they shortchanged schools by nearly $40 million and spent millions on questionable projects. The agencies also lacked a reliable way to calculate how many jobs were created by redevelopment, the controller found.
"The lack of accountability and transparency is a breeding ground for waste, abuse and impropriety," Chiang said in a statement.
"In whatever form local redevelopment takes in the future, the level of oversight and openness must be consistent with the amount of public dollars entrusted to their care."
Backers of redevelopment disputed the controller's findings, particularly as a vote on Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to phase out the program could come as early as this week.
"This is a politically motivated study, of course, timed to come out right before a critical vote on abolishing redevelopment in California," said John Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment Association.
Meanwhile, two organizations -- a coalition of local governments and two labor groups -- launched competing radio ads Monday.
One ad, backed by the League of California Cities, contends the governor's proposal to phase out redevelopment agencies violates Prop. 22, which voters approved in November in an attempt to protect local funds from the state.
The second ad, co-sponsored by the California Professional Firefighters and the California School Employees Association, argues that redevelopment money could be better spent on core local services.
The controller's report and the new ad campaigns add fodder to the escalating debate on the governor's proposal. Riverside County and Inland cities have been rushing to start redevelopment projects before a vote can eliminate redevelopment agencies.
Redevelopment across California generates more than $5.5 billion in property tax revenue. Brown's plan would phase out the agencies and use $1.7 billion to help balance the state's fiscal 2011-12 budget. In future years, the money would go directly to cities, counties and schools to fund local services.
Statewide, 12 cents of every property tax dollar goes toward redevelopment. The Inland region has the highest rate in California: 31 percent in San Bernardino County and 26 percent in Riverside County.
Chiang's office launched the review of the 18 agencies, including Riverside County's and those in Palm Desert and Desert Hot Springs, in late January.
The report found:
Five of the 18 agencies reviewed failed to make deposits totaling $33.6 million into the Supplemental Educational Augmentation Fund in fiscal 2009-10. None of the five was from the Inland region. Money from the fund goes to schools partially or fully within a redevelopment zone.
A review of Department of Finance records by the controller's office found another three that failed to make $7.1 million in deposits to the fund. As a result, the state had to backfill schools by nearly $40 million, the controller reported.
Under current legal standards, the definition of blight is broad, giving redevelopment agencies wide latitude in the types of projects they pursue.
As one example, the controller's office points to Palm Desert's redevelopment agency. From fiscal 2009-10 through fiscal 2013-14, the agency's five-year implementation plan allocates $16.7 million for projects related to the Desert Willow Golf Resort.
The controller said the resort earned 4.5 stars from Golf Digest Magazine and that agency-funded projects included the renovation of all 18 greens.
The controller did not cite any questionable spending by Riverside County's redevelopment agency.
Redevelopment agencies are not required to have a consistent method for reporting data on their performance, including how they calculate the number of jobs created.
Riverside County's redevelopment agency used projections provided by each project's developer. The city of Fresno's agency used a Bureau of Labor Statistics calculator. Citrus Heights, near Sacramento, surveyed new businesses.
Shirey, with the California Redevelopment Association, said some of the controller's findings are simply wrong.
For instance, he said, the association sponsored legislation in the early 1990s to toughen the definition of blight. In addition, state law allows agencies to withhold payment to the educational fund if they cannot afford to do so, Shirey said.
In a telephone interview, he said he agrees there is room to improve how agencies report data.
Shirey also said there should be a uniform method to determine how many jobs have been created. He said the redevelopment association has offered a job-creation formula.
"It's a matter of reform and not abolishment," Shirey said. "Unfortunately, the governor is on the wrong track here."
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Old 03-15-2011, 12:06 PM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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Here is what cities all over Calif are doing to earmark what ever funds they still have in their Redevelopment Agency funds before Brown snatches them back. Remember these funds are suppose to go to cure blight and improve low income housing throughout Calif. But look at where they're being used. These funds have been a slush fund and welfare for big developers for years. Now that the money is dried up in Calif, Brown wants to direct them to social programs and law enforcement which is needed due to more crime. Many of those same social programs are the ones that put us in this mess in the first place. Wow, are things becoming more transparent since the monies gone.

Perris rushes to assign redevelopment money
Making good on a vow to spend as much redevelopment money locally as possible before June, the Perris City Council has committed more than $80 million to 16 projects.
They include building a new $3.5 million fire station, sprucing up an abandoned office building that's become a graffiti magnet and installing irrigation wells at several parks. The city also is granting money to seven businesses to renovate their storefronts. The recipients include restaurants, a tire shop and the Perris Market grocery store.
Last week, the council called a special meeting to earmark the funds, less than 24 hours after its regularly scheduled Tuesday meeting. The council was trying to beat Gov. Jerry Brown's self-imposed March 10 deadline to rally enough votes for his proposal. Brown later asked to push back the deadline.
Councilman Mark Yarbrough said time was of the essence because the state appears to be fast-tracking its proposal to eliminate local redevelopment agencies and use the $1.7 billion elsewhere. Brown's proposal would redirect redevelopment funding to other priorities, such as law enforcement and schools, if passed by the state Legislature.
"Staff has put in some serious overtime to put forward as many projects as we can," Yarbrough said.
One Perris resident questioned why the council approved the large batch of projects during a special council meeting rather than at its regularly scheduled meeting the night before.
"I'm concerned about transparency again. A regular City Council meeting was held the day before," Jason Reed said. "You would think the council would have made their stand against the governor at a regular meeting where more people would have noticed."
Councilman Al Landers and Yarbrough said the special meeting was called later to give city administrators more time to draw up contracts for the array of projects. They added that public notice of the special meeting was posted 24 hours in advance, as required by law.
The city's engineering firm, Tri-Lake Consultants, received a $2.05 million contract to plan, design, bid out and manage the construction of 13 projects that altogether will cost approximately $77 million.
The projects:
Building drainage systems along the Ramona Expressway and around Harley Knox Boulevard to prepare for a road connecting Harley Knox and Indian Avenue
Repaving and upgrading to the City Hall parking lot
Building a new fire station at San Jacinto Avenue and F Street
Adding an irrigation well for Morgan Park
Completing the renovation of downtown D Street
Finishing upgrades to the freeway crossing of Interstate 215 and Fourth Street
Paving about 20 dirt alleyways
Upgrading Harley Knox Boulevard from Interstate 215 to Ramona Expressway
Revamping Case Road
Constructing a sewer system for the Enchanted Heights neighborhood
Repairing and replacing several sewer lines
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Old 07-07-2011, 12:05 PM
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Jeanfromfillmore Jeanfromfillmore is offline
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Depending on the size of your town and how old the town is, this move by Gov. Brown could have a huge impact on it. The next 6 months or so will show the true impact as towns try to scramble to come up with the money or grind to a standstill.

Local officials criticize redevelopment plan
Local officials across the Inland region are facing a dilemma: Pay out tens of millions or see their redevelopment agencies go down the drain.
California's new budget, signed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown, eliminates redevelopment agencies but creates a voluntary program to replace them.
To keep their redevelopment agencies, cities and counties statewide collectively must pay $1.7 billion to the state this year, money that helps balance an $86 billion general fund budget.
If they don't, their agencies -- which keep a greater share of an area's property tax revenue to fund everything from roadwork to community centers -- will cease to exist.
That means they won't be able to take on additional bonds and start new projects, although they would be allowed to pay existing debt.
The League of California Cities and the California Redevelopment Association plan to sue.
Chris McKenzie, the league's executive director, called the legislation extortion. The payments amount to a "ransom," he said by telephone Wednesday.
Some agencies will be able to make the payments or delay projects to come up with the money, McKenzie said. Others will have to shut down.
"In each case, it is going to impose very substantial hardships," McKenzie said.
For Inland agencies, the cost is estimated at a combined $360 million this year, according to projections from the redevelopment association.
Riverside County would have to pay about $31.7 million this year to keep its redevelopment agency alive, nearly a third of its $100 million in gross redevelopment revenue. For the city of Riverside, its $19.4 million payment represents more than one-fourth of its redevelopment revenue.
A sampling of other Inland agency payments, according to the California Redevelopment Association: Fontana, $32.6 million; city of San Bernardino, $14 million; Lake Elsinore, $7.8 million; Moreno Valley, $6.2 million; Temecula, $4.8 million; Murrieta, $2.5 million.
Local officials continue to analyze the legislation to gauge its effect. But to come up with the money, they will have to halt or delay planned roads, housing and other community improvement projects, they say.
Solutions range from depleting Riverside County's affordable housing fund to make the payment to halting a planned pavilion at a Riverside city park.
"It really smacks of an intimidation factor," Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit said Wednesday.
The redevelopment association, which represents agencies statewide, and the League of California Cities are more critical. They called the move illegal and vowed a lawsuit. Prop. 22, the two groups contend, prevents raids on local government funds.
Redevelopment agencies receive funding from what is known as tax-increment revenue. The money comes from property tax increases that result from improvements and new development within a redevelopment zone, or project area.
Redevelopment supporters say the agencies create thousands of jobs, and the money funds a host of worthy projects that improve blighted communities.
But critics say job-creation figures are inflated and redevelopment agencies often strong-arm local property owners with the use of eminent domain.
Brown first proposed eliminating redevelopment agencies when he unveiled his initial budget proposal in January. He wanted to use $1.7 billion in redevelopment revenue to help bridge the state's massive budget gap.
The plan became one of the most controversial aspects of Brown's budget proposal. Local officials rallied to defend redevelopment.
As a budget deadline loomed, Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-San Fernando Valley, introduced legislation that would spare the agencies, provided they make payments this year equaling what the governor first hoped to receive by eliminating them.
In subsequent years, the agencies would have to make annual payments totaling a combined $400 million.
Redevelopment agencies dissolve on Oct. 1, under the legislation. Local officials have until Nov. 1 to formally agree to make the payments.
"Gov. Brown supported the complete elimination of redevelopment agencies because they siphon billions in local tax dollars away from critical public needs like education and law enforcement," Brown spokesman Gil Duran said Wednesday.
"These two bills represent a compromise that will redirect over a billion dollars to critical public services and prevent the most egregious abuses of taxpayer money," he said.
Cutting Projects
"It's not fair," said Benoit, a former state senator. "It is not good government."
The county's redevelopment agency has funded worthy projects and been managed well, he said.
But Benoit said making the payments is better than ending redevelopment.
"It is not a beautiful picture but better than it could have been," he said.
Tom Freeman, a spokesman for Riverside County's redevelopment agency, said in an email that officials will recommend the county make the $31 million payment from the agency's housing fund, a step allowed in the legislation for this year only.
The amount represents the Riverside County agency's entire housing fund for one year, he said. Next year's payment is estimated at $7 million, Freeman said.
In the city of Riverside, paying to keep redevelopment could delay projects and downsize others.
"Generating that money in order to give it to the state ... will mean that we'll have to sacrifice some projects," Riverside Development Director Emilio Ramirez said.
City Manager Brad Hudson told City Council members late last month that they could cover most of that with existing funds. But making the payment could create a deficit of $3.3 million for the agency.
Hudson suggested the city cancel a planned $1 million pavilion for White Park and trim several programs to make up the shortfall.
Murrieta plans to pay the $2.5 million it will take to keep its redevelopment agency going, Community Development Director Mary Lanier said.
It's worth the expense, since Murrieta's agency is relatively new and just starting to see revenue, Lanier said. The agency is expected to take in about $8 million this year.
Lanier said the city is planning several projects, including a road connecting to nearby Temecula. Some would be delayed, he said.
"It will certainly impact projects," Lanier said. "Which ones? I don't know yet."
For smaller agencies, such as San Jacinto, making this year's payment to keep operating could mean putting off a host of projects. San Jacinto would have to pay $2.25 million, which is more than the agency has for projects each year, City Manager Tim Hults said.
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Old 07-07-2011, 01:42 PM
Rim05 Rim05 is offline
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State Controller John Chiang, has been making a lot of noise lately. I am thinking he is aiming for higher office.
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