October 16, 2010 6:06 PM
Brooke Edwards

For the next 40 years, property owners from across the Victor Valley are on the hook to help pay down tens of millions of dollars in debt for failed or stalled Victorville projects.

Last year alone, more than $2.3 million in property taxes from portions of Apple Valley, Hesperia and unincorporated San Bernardino County went toward a $21 million payment on bonds for Southern California Logistics Airport. And the Daily Press has learned that at least a quarter of the $300 million in outstanding bonds funded Victorville’s own projects off SCLA property, including land for a city-owned library and work on the Victorville 2 power plant.

“It’s clear to me that Victorville was scrounging around looking for money wherever they could get it,” Peter Allan, Apple Valley’s mayor and VVEDA’s vice chair, said of the expenses now coming to light. “…We can’t sit idly by and let it happen.”

When the Victor Valley Economic Development Authority was created to redevelop the area surrounding former George Air Force Base, the group gave Victorville control over SCLA. Each local city then agreed to hand 50 percent of the excess tax revenue generated by businesses that fall in both their boundaries and VVEDA’s 16-square-mile project area to Victorville for use on projects at SCLA.

According to the agency’s Joint Powers Agreement, that money must be “allocated solely for use on the GAFB parcels.” And Victorville pledged to the other VVEDA members that 100 percent of its own tax increment would be used to develop SCLA.

Instead, Victorville is using all of its own $4.9 million pledge plus the half it gets from the other cities to pay down bonds that funded these projects:

• $50 million to General Electric in 2007 for a down payment on equipment intended for the Victorville 2 power plant, located just off former Air Force base parcels. The city officially lost that deposit earlier this year, after missing a series of payments for the turbines.

• $25 million, conservatively estimated, over the past several years to buy land, process permits and pay Inland Energy for work on VV2, with the solar portion of that project now out for bid and the gas-fired power plant portion of VV2 on hold indefinitely.

• $4.3 million in 2005 for work on the La Mesa/Nisqualli interchange, with construction still delayed.

• $1.9 million in 2005 for land across from Victorville City Hall for a city-owned library. A staff report in Victorville’s Oct. 5 City Council agenda said that land now does “not meet the city’s needs with respect to construction of a library.”

“Victorville is pretty creative in saying all these outside issues are related to SCLA somehow,” said Paul Bosacki, Hesperia councilman and VVEDA commissioner. “It appears as though Victorville is using those funds as a piggy bank to do things outside that boundary.”

Read the full story in Sunday’s Press Dispatch. To subscribe to the Daily Press in print or online, call (760) 241-7755, 1-800-553-2006 or click here.