City Council joins joint powers authority to fund coffee roaster

By: Cheri March The News Messenger
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The Lincoln City Council agreed to join a joint powers authority in order to issue $15 million in bonds to gourmet coffee roaster Rogers Family Co. on Tuesday. By joining the California Enterprise Development Authority, council members provided Lincoln businesses and nonprofits access to the authority’s services, which include issuing bonds for projects deemed to offer public benefit. Rogers Family Co., for example, will use the funding to finance acquisition, construction, improvement and equipping of a property at 1731 Aviation Boulevard near the Lincoln Regional Airport. After work is complete, the coffee company will move its operations from San Leandro to Lincoln. Lincoln’s planning commission approved a conditional use permit for Rogers in March. Paula Connors, executive director of the California Enterprise Development Authority, assured council members that the city would not be financially responsible for the bonds. “The questions we get most frequently are, ‘Is there city liability?’ and ‘Are these city funds?’ and the answer is no,” she said. “We’re basically facilitators for private businesses to borrow from investors at a lower rate. It’s very much a commercial transaction that has a community benefit.” Mayor Primo Santini confirmed Connors’ assertion. “There is no obligation on city’s behalf. There’s no way we can be held accountable for these funds,” he said. “We look at it as a redevelopment tool and we think it’s appropriate in this instance.” Council members also approved the division of the same 400,000-square-foot Aviation Blvd property sought by Rogers into two separate, nearly equal parcels. In other news, Lincoln’s director of library services, Darla Wegener, provided a status report on city libraries. Following the opening of Twelve Bridges Library last fall, more than 95,000 items were circulated in 2007-08, up from approximately 30,000 last year, Wegener said. The library system currently lists more than 17,000 registered borrowers and 5,749 new users since last year. “We’re having a lot of successes, and a lot of things we’re still working for,” Wegener said. Councilman Spencer Short commended Lincoln resident Mickey Haggard for his help getting the new library off the ground. “Mickey’s been a tremendous asset (during) this whole project,” Short said. “Both libraries here are very much tied to community through volunteer activities, community support, and community action.” As Tuesday’s meeting neared its end, Santini pointed out that it would be City Manager Jerry Johnson’s last, as Johnson will retire April 30. “Jerry has been city manager for the last seven years and in public service for 40,” Santini said. “We like to think he saved his best for last.” “As we all know, Jerry’s tenure here coincided with a wild and wooly period of development in Lincoln,” Short said. “To be able to get through transitioning from a city of 8,000 to a city of nearly 40,000 with balance and calm … that’s kind of an extension of your leadership.”