By Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino, Staff Writer
Posted: 07/14/2011 10:05:08 PM PDT

ONTARIO – Officials from several Inland Empire citiessupport an anticipated lawsuit seeking to overturn two new laws to limit or eliminate redevelopment funding.

Unless Assembly Bill 1×26 and 1×27 are overturned, local jobs and vital transportation and infrastructure projects are at risk, mayors from Ontario, Montclair, Fontana and Rancho Cucamonga said during Thursday’s press conference held at the redevelopment- funded City Center Senior Apartments.

The League of California Cities and the California Redevelopment Association plan to challenge the bills in court.

“At a time when California is still in the grips of the recession, it is simply outrageous and irresponsible that the Legislature and the governor would eliminate one of the only tools cities have to create jobs and stimulate our local economies,” Rancho Cucamonga Mayor Dennis Michael said. “This action … is intended to maliciously punish cities for obtaining (Proposition 22) protection and the public’s support.”

Last November, voters passed Proposition 22 which prevents the state from dipping into local redevelopment funds. To help balance the budget, the Legislature passed A.B. 1×26 and 27 “in blatant violation of will of the voters.”

“I’m praying for the legislators because only God can help them for what they’ve done,” Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren said.

If carried out, A.B. 1×26 would shut down all redevelopment agencies. An alternate proposal, A.B. 1×27, is unattainable according to Michael, because some of the cities will not be able to pay an upfront $1.7 billion “ransom” required of redevelopment agencies to continue to operate, and an additional $400 million each following year.

Reducing redevelopment dollars is sure to have an impact on the local economy, officials said.

The city of Upland gets roughly $2.8 million in redevelopment funds, according to Councilman Ken Willis. If A.B. 1×27 is enforced, the city would have to pay $5 million up front, followed by a $600,000 yearly assessment.

Rancho Cucamonga’s share would be $27 million up front followed by $6 million in lost revenue each year.

Ontario nets $55 million in redevelopment funds and would have to pay $18 million up front, followed by $4 million yearly.

Fontana rakes in about $100 million, and will be required to pay $32 million up front, followed by another $7 million each year.

Ontario Mayor Paul Leon said growing up, he and his brothers held odd jobs and pitched in to help pay for the family’s bills, and would then get back a small allowance from their mother.

“It would have been considered a crime if my mother had turned around and said, `You know what, I can’t give you your allowance because I am mismanaging the funds of our home,” Leon said. “Nobody would accept this kind of treatment in the family and we shouldn’t accept that kind of treatment from the state legislators when they cannot manage their own money and they continue to raid local pockets to make up what they mismanaged.

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