James Rufus Koren, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/26/2011 03:30:41 PM PST

Inland Empire cities can and have used redevelopment agencies to build freeway interchanges, storm drains and other big public infrastructure projects that aim to open land to new development.

But there are other ways to pay for those projects. One way, said Redlands-based regional economist John Husing, is to create community facilities districts or CFDs – also known as Mello-Roos districts.

In a CFD, property owners or homeowners pay a direct tax, on top of their regular property taxes, to cover the cost of public projects that serve their specific area. Those projects can include major roadways, sewers, schools and parks.

“We use it for bigger ticket items – big sewers, big streets, big water (projects),” said Alan Kapanicas, city manager of Beaumont, where CFDs have been the primary funding source of the public works projects for new developments.

Beaumont has a Redevelopment Agency, but Kyle Warsinski, a community development analyst with the city, said it generally hasn’t been used to build infrastructure aimed at opening virgin land to development.

“Our RDA is mostly the old part of the city,” he said. “That’s what RDAs are intended to do – eliminate blight. In the new areas, we don’t have that, so we don’t have an RDA there.”

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