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School officials challenged by post-redevelopment process : North County Times – Californian

By   /   May 16, 2012  /   4 Comments

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With billions of dollars at stake, school district representatives charged with overseeing the shutdown of about 400 redevelopment agencies may be underprepared.

Seven-member local oversight boards consisting of representatives from K-14 districts, the county, the city and special districts are now responsible for vetting decisions about how the former agencies will be dismantled and how the property taxes that previously went to redevelopment will be spent.

But some observers are concerned that many school district representatives are not well-equipped to review the complex contracts and financial arrangements left in redevelopment’s wake.

In a report earlier this year, the Legislative Analyst’s Office suggested that the state provide $1 million to help train K-14 oversight board members, but no additional funds have been allocated. To fill the gap, the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, which advises school districts on financial matters, has offered several workshops to help educate school officials.

“Even a district staff person who is an experienced school finance person generally has very little background that is directly relevant to redevelopment agencies,” said Dante Gumucio, CEO of Public Economics Inc., an economic consultancy firm that specializes in helping school districts with redevelopment issues and has led the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team workshops.

“I’m sure that there are some schools that don’t even know how to spell redevelopment,” said Barbara Christensen, director of community and government relations for the San Mateo Community College District, and a member of five oversight boards in the county. San Mateo County education officials have been holding regular meetings to help educate local school officials about redevelopment. “But we might be unique,” Christensen said.

Not all school officials agree about school officials’ level of preparedness. “I’ve been working with the redevelopment agencies for the last 10 years, and they’re not out of the ordinary for me,” said Doug Claflin, assistant superintendent of business services at the Etiwanda School District. He said that his work with bond issuances for school facilities has prepared him for his position on the Rancho Cucamonga oversight board.

In some cases, the oversight boards are finding potentially illegal items in the budgets.

A chief business official for Santa Cruz City Schools serving on the local oversight board sent an e-mail to the state complaining about the city’s failure to disclose key information to the oversight board, the Santa Cruz Sentinel reported.

The state Department of Finance and county auditors are also charged with reviewing the former redevelopment agencies’ budgets. The state has already returned over two dozen budgets because of questionable payments, California Watch previously reported.

Members of the oversight boards work on a volunteer basis.

After the former redevelopment agencies are dissolved, it’s unlikely most districts will see any additional revenue. Instead of increasing school budgets, property taxes allocated for schools will offset payments previously made by the state to ensure all districts meet the required funding level.

Only districts whose revenue from local property taxes exceeds minimum funding levels – known as basic aid districts – might see more money. They make up about 10 percent of the 1000 school districts in the state.

View this story on California Watch

School officials challenged by post-redevelopment process : North County Times - Californian

via School officials challenged by post-redevelopment process : North County Times – Californian.

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4 Comments

  1. Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

    The game ain’t over till it’s over

    • Dan OBrien Dan OBrien says:

      Well the more that Schools and the Hospital District realize that the money they leave on the table at the Oversight Meeting will not be back-filled by the state it will make them more resolute to defend their own turf and not that of the city.

      Hey times are bad… the whole thing is about to collapse and the State is not going to let a bunch of Orange County grifters play a confidence game with our tax dollars.

      The governor is not in the mood to give an inch. The league of Cities does not have the votes to override a veto.

      The city can sue all it wants. What that will get them is their Tax Increment being locked up at the State Treasury for the duration of the trial. That could take Years.

      The smartest thing they could do is let the increment pay the bond out and save as much as they can in the 10 years to the first point they can defease the bonds and call it quits…

      Seriously Larry if 29 Palms thinks they can beat the State on this, they are smoking Crack. The Council needs to wise up and get a second legal opinion.

  2. Larry Briggs Larry Briggs says:

    One of the directives from the DOF is to sell the RDA’s assets as soon as possible and get the maximum price for them. In this market that sounds like ten cents on the dollar. Wonder what the PFF building in YV will sell for?

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