10:00 PM PDT on Monday, July 26, 2010

By JIM MILLER
Sacramento Bureau

SACRAMENTO – Several Inland governments, businesses and other groups have rallied behind a recently introduced state bill meant to preserve millions in revenue for the agency in charge of redeveloping the former Norton Air Force Base.

The support comes even though some of the agencies would stand to get more money if current law was left alone.

The situation stems from a recent change in ownership of the Mountain View power plant in Redlands. The ownership change in March requires a reshuffling of property tax payments from the plant.

The Inland Valley Development Agency, the Norton redevelopment agency, would lose as much as $4.5 million in Mountainview revenue, according to one estimate.

Inland lawmakers are trying to avoid that loss. A bill by Assembly members Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, and Wilmer Amina Carter, D-Rialto, would carve out an exemption to a 2007 state law that otherwise would shift much of the Mountainview revenue away from the development agency.

The Senate Local Government Committee approved the bill June 30. The Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the measure Monday.

“The bottom line is I want them to succeed because they create jobs,” said Cook of the development agency. “It’s kind of a common-sense bill.”

The development agency “wins” under AB 308, according to an analysis of the measure by the local government committee.

“However, the bill also results in lower future allocations to some school districts and special districts with territories that do not encompass…(the) Mountainview power plant,” the analysis reads.

Mountainview’s change in ownership would cause San Bernardino County’s share of Mountainview tax revenue to increase from $486,000 to $2.5 million. Redlands’ share would go from about $723,000 to $2 million. And Redlands Unified School District could get as much as $2.4 million, according to estimates.

Yet officials from all three agencies are backing the Cook-Carter bill. In a letter to lawmakers, a Redlands Unified official called the bill “vital to our struggling communities and local economy.”

Brian Hardy, the district’s coordinator for facility planning services, said the current tax-sharing arrangement with the development agency gives the district more flexibility in how it spends the Mountainview money.

In addition, he said, any surge in Mountainview tax revenue for the district would trigger a corresponding decrease in funding from Sacramento.

“Flexibility of dollars is so key,” Hardy said. “There are not a lot of those funds out there.”

More support

San Bernardino Mayor Patrick Morris, the co-chair of the development agency, said the agency has been crucial to attracting job-creating projects to the airport, such as the 2.3 million-square-foot Stater Bros. Markets’ corporate headquarters and distribution center project.

The money also has helped pay for low- and moderate-income housing. The Western Center on Law and Poverty backs the measure.

Michael Burrows, the agency’s assistant director, said the bill’s supporters recognize his agency’s value.

“Any funds we get are re-invested in their programs,” he said.

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