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Council to discuss future of redevelopment agency
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The Turlock City Council will hold a special, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday workshop to discuss the future of the city's Redevelopment Agency, in the wake of state action to force such agencies to either close or pay large fees to the state.
Per state action, Turlock has three choices: dissolve the agency and receive no further money; name the city as a successor agency, which would wind down the agency and see the city receive very limited funding for administrative purposes only, or; make a voluntary payment to the state, often termed a "ransom," which would allow the agency to remain intact, but would force further annual payments to the State of California.
Turlock has calculated its one-time "voluntary payment" to be $1.6 million, far less than the state's calculation of $3.2 million. Turlock has appealed the state's figure, with a response to the appeal expected by Thursday.
Further annual payments are estimated between $250,000 and $500,000 - payments which would cut into the agency's ability to begin new projects, but would still allow for the funding of housing projects.
If Turlock opts not to pay the "ransom," major changes are in store for the agency.
The agency board, currently composed of the City Council, would be replaced by a seven-member oversight board with just one member of council.
Currently, the RDA contributes more than $500,000 annually to administrative, fixed, and employee costs in Turlock. The expenditure totals all or part of seven positions, plus a portion of administrative funding for six departments.
If the agency is dissolved, Turlock would receive no money for those purposes. If Turlock is named the successor agency, the maximum amount allowed for administrative purposes would fall by at least $100,000 annually, and by as much as half.
The state's move to shutter redevelopment agencies statewide could yet be overturned by the California Supreme Court. The court has decided to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of eliminating such agencies, with a ruling expected before Jan. 15, 2012.

On Tuesday, at their regularly scheduled 7 p.m. meeting, the Turlock City Council is expected to:
• Take action to close Tegner Road at Taylor Road.
Closure of the road was initially approved on Feb. 22, 2000, but was never completed. Traffic on Tegner Road must currently navigate a one-lane bridge over Turlock Irrigation District Lateral No. 3.
If approved, Tegner Road would become a cul-de-sac.
• Adopt an updated taxicab ordinance, which would see new permits no longer require council approval.
The Turlock Police Department, which already conducts background investigations on the applications, would approve such permits. Those denied would be able appeal to the Turlock City Council.
The issue came to council's attention last month, when Turlock was without a permitted taxi driver for weeks, due to a denied permit and timing issues with placing a new taxi permit applicant on the council's bimonthly agenda.
• Issue a proclamation in honor of the Pitman High School Band, which will participate in the 2012 National Independence Day Parade in Washington, D.C.
• Issue a proclamation in honor of Mark De La Motte, Turlock High baseball coach, who was named the American Baseball Coaches Association/Diamond Sports Company High School Division II Regional Coach of the Year.
• Commit $159,640 to convert the Development Services Division to the city's new computer platform. Already, the city's financial department has been converted to the new system, which is said to be more cost effective.
The new system is said to improve communications and efficiency, and would allow for online permit tracking.
• Adopt state-mandated changes to the public contract code, which will change the cost limits for bidding projects through informal procedures. Public projects of $30,000 or less may be performed by negotiated contract or by purchase order; those of $175,000 or less may be signed with informal contract procedures; those of more than $175,000 may be signed with formal contract procedures.
• Appoint Lew Boyle, a retired school teacher, to the Turlock City Arts Commission.
• Appoint two representatives to the Development Collaborative Advisory Committee to replace Axel Gomez and Jim Theis, both of whom resigned in July. Buster Lucas, an electrical contractor and developer, Mike Casale, a structural designer and drafter, and James Brenda, a contractor and builder, have applied for the positions.

The Turlock City Council's regular meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of City Hall, 156 S. Broadway. The Redevelopment Agency Special Workshop is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the same room.
To contact Alex Cantatore, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2005.