City, fearing state cash grab, sets redevelopment spending
Jim Steinberg, Staff Writer
Created: 03/23/2011 08:59:24 PM PDT

FONTANA – The city’s Redevelopment Agency funneled $19 million into 17 projects at a public meeting Tuesday night.

The action to put money to work comes at a time when there is uncertainty about the future of redevelopment agencies in California.

Gov. Jerry Brown wants to phase out the agencies as part of his plan to balance the state’s budget.

“Not knowing what the state will ultimately do, we felt we should have plans for using the money,” City Manager Ken Hunt said Wednesday.

In normal times, RDA project spending is rolled into normal budget updates four times per year, Hunt said.

But in reaction to the uncertainty surrounding state government, “we want to ensure that money we have in this community gets spent in this community,” he said.

The state often looks at money sitting around as something it can take, Hunt said.

Asked about the impact of spending some of that $19 million before the state decides how it wants to pursue RDA money, Hunt said, “They can’t take money that has been spent.”

Lisa Strong, Fontana’s management services director, said, “We can’t just stop dead and wait and see what the state does.”

An item on the agenda related to the defensive RDA strategy caught the eye of Leticia Garcia, the vice president of the Fontana Unified school board.

Garcia has been focused on finding money for the cash-strapped district. The board in recent weeks has approved cuts amounting to $26 million next year.

Garcia spearheaded an effort to take a parcel tax to the district’s voters as a way to get $16 million for the district over four years.

The item that caught her eye was to “realign the Supplemental Education Revenue Augmentation Fund payment made to the prior fiscal year by moving $7,662,900 of the payment from the Southwest Industrial Project Area to the North Fontana area, thereby freeing up the same amount for projects in the SWIP area.”

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