State takes $871,000 from Lincoln’s redevelopment funds

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
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The city of Lincoln was forced to give over $871,000 of its redevelopment funds to the state last week. The city turned over the money to the Placer County Auditor as the result of “the state’s decision to raid $2.05 billion in local redevelopment funds” as part of the 2009-2010 state budget, according to the city’s public information officer Jill Thompson. “Instead of going to fund local job creation, economic growth and urban revitalization projects, this money will now be siphoned off to help pay the state’s obligations,” Thompson said. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly made a ruling last week “which instructed local agencies to abide by the provisions of ABX4-26,” which is why Lincoln paid the $871,000 to the state, according to Thompson. ABX4-26 is a local redevelopment agency bill, according to Thompson, and the provision is a state takeaway where “the state has taken local funds to balance their budget.” “The loss of $800,000 means that essential projects such as assistance with the redevelopment of the Rainbow Market site and the completion of the Lincoln Brand Feed Project cannot occur or will be delayed indefinitely,” City Manager Jim Estep said. “The work that makes our city streets safer, cleans up our downtown and helps to attract business investment in Lincoln has been gutted by this seizure.” Estep also noted that the state has no intention of returning the funds. Steve Art, the city’s economic and redevelopment manager, said the state takeaway will affect how the city attracts new businesses and helps existing ones. “It’s going to take money that we could use to potentially loan to small businesses, do beautification projects and infrastructure improvement, which will be delayed,” Art said. Projects delayed include a facelift to the Rainbow Market site and completion of the Lincoln Brand Feed building, according to Thompson. Work on the Lincoln Brand Feed building would include adding new retail, according to Art. Art said the money left over will be used to “pay debts, the staff we have and we have some bond money for the Fifth Street lighting project.” “We can’t use bond funds to loan out to businesses,” Art said. The collection of the redevelopment funds comes in light of the city’s current budgetary crisis, since the city is currently working to “close a $2 million budget gap” in its General Fund, according to Thompson. The General Fund is responsible for funding services related to police, fire, libraries, parks and recreation. “This is absolutely devastating to Lincoln. Sacramento politicians continue to mismanage the state’s budget and can simply go to the courts to obtain support for their money grab,” Mayor Tom Cosgrove said. “In the meantime, our residents are suffering the effects of local budget and service cuts.” When asked about the state taking away redevelopment funds, Lincoln resident Ralph Niles said, “Somebody has to sacrifice to help with the state’s budget,” and that “the money wouldn’t fill all of the empty buildings in Lincoln.” Jimmy Routt, another Lincoln resident, is considering the general economy. “Obviously I don’t like it,” Routt said. “However, the state is in pretty bad shape so we’re all going to have to work together to get by.”