Sonoma County to complete former redevelopment projects
Published: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 4:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 4:52 p.m.
Sonoma County supervisors were told Tuesday that they could have $24.4 million in property tax revenue available through mid-2017 to complete former county redevelopment projects and programs.
The amount would cover costs for the county's top four former redevelopment projects, including the Highway 12 street and sidewalks improvements north of Sonoma and the proposed residential and commercial complex on an abandoned shopping center in Santa Rosa's Roseland neighborhood.
Supervisors said the projections added a welcome bit of good news to an ongoing redevelopment fight with the state that had left the projects in limbo.
Supervisor Susan Gorin, who represents Sonoma Valley, called it a “light at the end of the tunnel” for the Highway 12 upgrades, begun in 2009.
“It looks like we might have a way forward to fund and complete that desperately needed infrastructure project,” Gorin said.
About $11 million of the five-year funding will be available starting in July. The Board of Supervisors is set to make decisions on how to allocate the funds in budget hearings next month.
The money comes from two kinds of sources: cash from the former county and city redevelopment agencies that has been redistributed to local government entities under the February 2012 state dissolution of redevelopment; and current and future county tax receipts that previously had been diverted to redevelopment agencies.
Altogether, county government is set to get about $30 million over the next five years from the redistribution. About $24.4 million would flow to the General Fund and about $5.6 million would go to other county entities, including the Water Agency and a network of service areas.
The General Fund money is discretionary, meaning it could be tapped by the board for other purposes.
But on Tuesday, the board added to a policy set last year dedicating the former redevelopment dollars to completion of priority projects once overseen by its redevelopment agency.
“Some would argue that these are dollars that could be going to other things,” said Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who represents the former Russian River and Roseland redevelopment areas. “We're reiterating the importance of carrying out these projects.”
The Highway 12 and Roseland projects long have been first in line for the funding. Together, they account for about $11.9 million of the five-year projected funding.
The other two priority projects are a proposed Guerneville homeless shelter, with an estimated $900,000 cost for land and construction, and a $1.2 million feasibility study on a wastewater treatment solution for the Monte Rio area.
Katrina Thurman, executive director of West County Community Services, said the Guerneville homeless shelter has been on the drawing board since 2008.
“I can't tell you how excited and grateful I am to see that (on the funding list),” Thurman said.
Depending on a number of factors, about $10 million could be left over for annual support for commercial business rehabilitation loans, housing assistance programs and non-profit social service efforts.
The total funding pool could ultimately be larger after the county and city redevelopment agencies evaluate and divest their real estate holdings, a mandatory process that is just beginning.
County officials said they intend to hold on to the Roseland property and other critical real estate. That stance mirrors their current court fight to hold onto about $6.7 million in funding for the Highway 12 and Roseland projects. The county's lawsuit against the state — one of several dozen brought by counties and cities throughout the state seeking to hold on to former redevelopment money — is set for an Aug. 9 hearing in Sacramento County Superior Court.
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