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Placer County Redevelopment Agency winds to a close

Court ruling impacts redevelopment in North Auburn
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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Road and shopping center improvements in North Auburn are just two projects that will fall by the wayside as the Placer County Redevelopment Agency gets ready to close its doors. It also means the county will remove a $97,000 plus job posting. The end of the agency comes after a verdict by the California State Supreme Court Dec. 29 that the legislature was within its legal rights when it passed Assembly Bill AB 1X26, which closed all redevelopment agencies earlier this year. The only hope for the agencies — to stay open by paying a portion of their tax revenues to the state — was ruled illegal by the court. County officials say because the state has mandated all agencies close by Feb. 1 several changes are on the way. Some employees will be reassigned to other positions in the county and others will take pay cuts. Some projects already underway will have to be seen through to completion, while others will never come to fruition. Tom Miller, Placer County Executive Officer and Director of Redevelopment said the current staff of about 10 will be consolidated to about five. Those remaining employees will see to the completion of certain affordable housing projects in Tahoe City and Kings Beach. “It will take a year or more to wind down the year pursuant to the state legislature,” Miller said. “We’ll have a quick update to the Board (of Supervisors) on the Jan. 10 agenda. Really what we’re looking to do is come back on Jan. 24 with resolutions and formal actions.” The projects that will be finished out were funded with redevelopment funds and separate block grants that the county applies for each year. Miller said the agency’s remaining employees will oversee projects completed with that block grant money, which is usually $500,000 to $1 million a year. Possible six-figure job off the table As of Thursday, the county was still advertising a job originally posted on its website Dec. 16 for a Redevelopment Program Manager. The annual salary was listed at $97,323 to $118,310. Miller said the position would have replaced the deputy director who just retired. Despite the job posting, the county is no longer hiring for that position, according to Miller. “We won’t be filling be that position,” Miller said. The Tahoe City Business Association and King’s Beach Business Association will also lose about 50 percent of their funding, which is provided by the county’s redevelopment funds, he said. The Redevelopment Agency had a budget of roughly $20 million, according to Miller. Aside from projects in North Auburn, those in the Sunset District near Roseville and Rocklin and others in Kings Beach have lost their funding. “We do not have the general fund dollars to support those activities. The difference in California is we do not have local funds to any degree for economic development and infrastructure investment unless it’s gas tax money, which doesn’t keep up with demand.” The property taxes that went toward redevelopment will now be collected by the state. Gov. Jerry Brown said in a released statement that the closure of redevelopment agencies will mean more funding for schools and public safety. Placer County District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes said the Board was waiting to hear a briefing from the agency this month. Supervisor says other salaries will take a hit “The projects that are already moving forward to my understanding are going to be completed,” Holmes said. “From there on it’s a question mark as to what projects go forward. It’s kind of premature to make any statements that are really significant until we find out more about it.” He said he knew the salary of some county personnel who also worked on redevelopment projects would probably take a hit, while fire districts will benefit by getting some tax dollars that previously went to the redevelopment agencies. “We have people in our other departments — the planning department, public works, auditors — they all do work on projects. Some of their pay will be affected,” Holmes said. “It’ll be a benefit to some of the fire districts.” Does Auburn have a redevelopment agency? The City of Auburn did not hire more staff to manage the Auburn Redevelopment Agency, but had current staff manage projects, according to Bob Richardson, Auburn City Manger. A portion of their salaries were reimbursed with redevelopment funds. Richardson, who managed the redevelopment agency, said it is standard for larger cities and counties to hire redevelopment agency staff, as was the case in Placer County. “The redevelopment agency really didn’t get underway until roughly five years ago,” Richardson said. “It’s just not big enough or active enough to warrant the hiring.” Miller said the legislature may find other avenues to fund redevelopment. “There is some movement in the state legislature to do something different and nobody really has a handle on what that is,” Miller said. “Nothing has been proposed now.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.