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Future of RDA funds up in the air

POSTED January 10, 2012 11:06 p.m.

The fate of Turlock's redevelopment agency is decided – at least for now.

The Turlock City Council on Tuesday voted to declare the City of Turlock as a successor agency for the RDA, allowing the city to retain some control over the agency and its funds.

But exactly how much control Turlock will retain remains uncertain, according to City Manager Roy Wasden.

“At best there are many things that are very, very unclear,” Wasden said. “We're struggling very hard at the staff level to get parameters, legal clarifications... More often than not every question is answered with 'we're not sure.'”

The shutdown was forced by a Dec. 28 California Supreme Court decision that ruled unconstitutional a budget measure which would have allowed redevelopment agencies statewide to remain open only by making annual payments to the state. The move, enacted by the legislature, was intended to close state budget gaps; without the option, agencies have no legal option but to name a successor agency, pay off existing debts, and shut down.

As of now, Turlock knows the successor agency oversight board will consist of one City Council member, one employee of the existing RDA, one Turlock Unified School District representative, one County Office of Education representative, one Yosemite Community College District representative, and two Board of Supervisors representatives, per state law.

Also, the city expects to receive 5 percent of previously allocated tax increment for administrative purposes this year, and 3 percent of the increment in subsequent years until the agency's obligations are paid off. The city's in-house financial staff will manage the successor agency's funds as debts are paid off.

Beyond that, little is settled.

“It's as clear as mud we're trying to sort through it and understand exactly how it should go,” Wasden said.

The resolution adopted Tuesday would see the City of Turlock retain housing assets and housing program functions, right now funded largely from redevelopment dollars. But whether or not the successor agency will retain some housing funding in an existing Turlock RDA account depends on legislation currently before the state senate.

A slew of bills in the state legislature look to alter the terms of the statewide redevelopment shutdown in one fashion or another. One would push deadlines from Feb. 1 to April 15.

Any of those bills might drastically change the future of a funding mechanism previously used by Turlock to develop an industrial park, construct low-income housing, and rebuild the Carnegie Arts Center.

“Stay tuned is all we can say,” Turlock Redevelopment Manager Heidi McNally-Dial said.

To contact Alex Cantatore, acantatore@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.

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