05:33 PM PST on Friday, January 14, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

Riverside County supervisors will hold a special meeting Tuesday to decide whether to issue $155 million in bonds to pay for a host of redevelopment projects.

The meeting comes a week after Gov. Jerry Brown proposed a plan to phase out redevelopment agencies, which use property tax revenue to fund public improvements such as sewers, roads, libraries and community centers.

The governor’s proposal would affect redevelopment funding not already tied to projects or existing bonds.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Bob Buster said Friday that county officials do not know the ultimate extent of any potential changes to redevelopment.

“We have been heavily dependent on redevelopment, and now we are seeing its vulnerability,” Buster said. “We need to talk about not just the current situation, or crisis, but also redevelopment over the longer term.”

Buster said the bonds would not go to fund any speculative or unworthy projects.

Supervisor John Tavaglione said Friday the county has “been waiting for the appropriate timing to go out to the bond market.”

“It wasn’t in place to deal with the governor’s budget, but the timing was right that we should do it now, because of what might happen,” Tavaglione said.

Typically, supervisors do not meet following holidays, and Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The agenda for the special meeting contains three items — all related to the redevelopment bond issue — and a closed session about potential legal cases.

County officials have long touted the benefits of redevelopment, and it is a tool used extensively in the Inland area.

Redevelopment agencies receive funding from what is known as tax-increment revenue. The money comes from property tax increases that result from improvements and new development within a redevelopment zone; most of the revenue pays off bonds issued to raise money for projects within the zone.

About 25 cents of every property-tax dollar in Riverside and San Bernardino counties — the highest in the state — go toward redevelopment.

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