Jim Steinberg,Staff Writer
Posted: 07/15/2012 11:43:57 AM PDT

View: Impact of state budget RDA cut

SAN BERNARDINO – The demise of California’s redevelopment agencies this year was one of multiple factors in the city’s inescapable decision to seek federal bankruptcy protection, a top city official said Friday.

When redevelopment agencies evaporated on Jan. 1, San Bernardino found itself with needing to pay nearly $5million from its general fund to meet obligations that previously had been covered by RDA funds, said Jim Morris, son and chief of staff for Mayor Pat Morris.

“It was another dent in the automobile, less gas in the tank,” he said. “It was not the one factor, but it certainly added to it.”

Other “dents” included falling real-estate tax revenues, falling sales-tax revenues, rising labor costs and expenses across a wide spectrum, Morris said.

The extra $5 million “strains cash flow enormously,” Morris said.

It comes during a lean time for cities in terms of revenue, he said, noting that the largest payment for real-estate taxes comes to cities in December.

Among the items on that unplanned-for $5 million bill:

$690,000 for library debt bond payment.

$460,000 to the San Bernardino Convention and Visitors Bureau.

$440,000 for Carousel Mall security.

$375,000 for Carousel Mall maintenance/utilities.

$300,000 for police costs related to the Carousel Mall.

$300,000 for city parks and recreation landscaping maintenance.

$200,000 for city attorney’s investigators/legal services.

$40,000 for state and federal lobbyists.

Additionally, the city will lose the benefit of some $3 million to $3.5 million that might have been spent annually for new projects, Morris said.

Redevelopment agencies were useful tools for cities, said Upland City Manager Stephen Dunn, because many projects could be done using a mixture of general fund and RDA money.

“You could literally plan a street-improvement project by making sure part of it was in an RDA improvement area,” Dunn said.

“Now the general fund must pick up the whole cost,” Dunn said.

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