Redevelopment, prison questions cloud Placer County budget future

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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State budget wrangles and a U.S. Supreme Court decision are creating plenty of financial wrinkles to iron out at the local level, Placer County supervisors were told Tuesday. Both the California Legislature and local governments like Placer County are moving toward finalizing budgets. Placer’s final budget is due for approval in September. Legislators are supposed to pass the state budget by July 1 but typically extend negotiations well into the summer. The Board of Supervisors learned from budget operations manager Brett Holt that the future of the county’s redevelopment program is still in limbo and this week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision on prison overcrowding will be complicating discussions at the state level. Holt said there are probably 15 proposals being considered on eliminating redevelopment agencies. The proposals range from redevelopment agencies chipping in some of their tax proceeds to the state budget to eliminating the agencies outright, he said. In the meantime, Placer County’s redevelopment agency continues to work on planning for the future, including introducing a new five-year plan for the North Lake Tahoe Redevelopment Project. “It’s surreal that we’re making big plans when the agency’s elimination is being proposed,” Redevelopment deputy director Jim LoBue said. “But part of our duty is to prepare five-year plans.” County Executive Officer Tom Miller said that while the Supreme Court decision could result in more prison inmates being transferred to county jails like Placer’s, the state will still be required to pay for their incarceration. The court ruled Monday that California needs to drop its prison population by 33,000 to no more than 110,000 inmates. The state is being given two years to make the transfers or release the prisoners. If inmates end up in Placer County Jail, Miller said the state should be paying for their stay. “The state is obligated for the cost of those services,” Miller said.