BY JIM MILLER
Published: 16 July 2012 05:43 PM
SACRAMENTO –Former redevelopment agencies in Riverside and San Bernardino counties handed over more than $30 million for schools and other local taxing entities in recent days, avoiding for now the prospect of stiff penalties by the state.
The state budget package signed in late June relies on $3.1 billion in revenue and assets from the longtime economic-development program. Last week’s payments stem from budget legislation meant to clarify what redevelopment successor agencies owe. It also gave the state new powers to compel them to hand the money over.
The state Department of Finance has made no moves to get the state Board of Equalization or county auditors to withhold sales tax or property tax revenue from any successor agencies deemed to be in arrears, something it could do starting Wednesday. Chris McKenzie, executive director of the League of California Cities, said he knows of no cities facing such a threat.
The payments are the latest step in the acrimonious process of winding down the decades-old redevelopment program, which ceased to exist Feb. 1, and using the money to reduce the state’s school-funding obligations. There already has been one court fight, and more lawsuits have been threatened.
County auditors receive the former redevelopment money and disburse it. In Riverside and San Bernardino counties, almost every redevelopment successor agency has made the required payment, although sometimes under protest, officials said Monday.
Riverside County Auditor-Controller Paul Angulo said the state has been “dictatorial” in telling redevelopment successor agencies what to pay and county auditors what to collect. The state calculations sometimes are wrong, he said.
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