BY KIMBERLY PIERCEALL
STAFF WRITER
kpierceall@pe.com

Published: 24 May 2012 06:53 PM

The agency developing San Bernardino International Airport shouldn’t count on $432 million it planned to use for airport improvements, incentives and road fixes, says the state’s Department of Finance.

Since the state dissolved redevelopment agencies last year to cover a growing budget shortfall, local governments and joint powers authorities have had to prove why they should get to keep property tax revenue to fund their shuttered agency’s existing contracts and projects.

The Department of Finance rejected the Inland Valley Development Agency’s claim that it’s owed $432 million in property tax revenue, the majority of which would be spent over the next 10 years on airport improvements.

That amount, and others rejected by the state from any of the other few hundred former redevelopment agencies that were shuttered, would be doled out instead to local taxing entities — school districts, cities, etc. — by county auditors and controllers beginning June 1.

That means money from property tax revenue the IVDA had hoped to use for the next 10 years to expand cargo and general aviation facilities at the airport, improve nearby roads, and encourage an airline to offer scheduled flights could be divided among cities, school districts and more.

The base’s redevelopment could be jeopardized with millions of dollars tied up by the Finance decision, said A.J. Wilson, interim executive director of the IVDA in an e-mail Thursday.

IVDA officials, made up of elected leaders from San Bernardino County, the city of San Bernardino, Colton and Loma Linda, have argued that their group should be exempt from the redevelopment law because it was formed by specific legislation to develop new uses for the closed Norton Air Force Base.

The agency plans to appeal the state’s finding before June 1.

The amount accounts for nearly half of the Inland Valley Development Agency’s total $949.5 million in debt and obligations. The IVDA has issued hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds to fund improvements to the airport with the expectation that property tax revenue and federal grants would pay off the debt.

A one-page letter from the state, though, said the Inland Valley Development Agency didn’t have any specific contracts related to the $410 million it had earmarked for airport improvements and $22 million for road construction.

The IVDA has long fronted the money it received from property tax revenue or bonds to pay for development of the airport with the expectation it would be paid back with Federal Aviation Administration grants or other federal funds, Wilson said.

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