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City ties up money to beat tax grab

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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The city had one big goal in mind — to get as much of its bond money tied up with shovel-ready redevelopment projects before Gov. Jerry Brown could sign a new budget and grab it all. The last-ditch effort encumbered about $3.6 million in Rocklin’s redevelopment dollars the state wanted to help shore up a ballooning $25 billion budget hole. Rocklin’s new City Manager Rick Horst told city council at their March 8 meeting that the staff scrambled to get everything done in time. “When I first sat down with the staff, we didn’t think we had enough time,” Horst told council. “It went from, ‘I’ll do my best’ to a can-do attitude.” The unanimous vote from the council redirected redevelopment agency funds to repay the loan from the city to the redevelopment agency for the new library to the tune of $440,776. The city put $477,755 into the Big Gun Quarry site including money for a contractor to clean up the site, historic preservation and to honor a contractual advance payment to the seller. The city also put $295,600 for the Grove Street at Rocklin Road roundabout design and Meyers Street double roundabout right-of-way acquisition. Bond cash will also go for Johnson-Springview Park ADA upgrades, enhancements to the Sunset Center and $460,000 for a sewer lift station that will accommodate potential businesses slated for the Sierra College Boulevard and Interstate 80 corridor. The project shift amended already earmarked projects including drainage construction on Granite Drive near the Mercedes Benz dealer for $150,000, the design of Pacific Street widening from Sierra Meadows to the Loomis border for $700,000 and changes to the Rocklin Road I-80 Interchange for up to $1,162,000. Horst said the state tied their hands and this was the best option. “We want to posture ourself to protect the community’s interest as much as possible and prepare ourselves to utilize the redevelopment agency dollars we have to push forward projects that would be the best value, best community need and best opportunity for return on investment,” Horst said. It’s unclear if the big scramble will work as Brown’s plan had language that could reverse some transactions as the state’s 400 redevelopment agencies are phased out. Rocklin’s redevelopment agency is funded through tax-increment financing. The redevelopment agency uses the annual increase in property tax revenue for projects that would otherwise go to schools, counties and others entities. The state reimburses the schools for the lost revenue, but Brown doesn’t want to do that anymore. Councilman Scott Yuill expressed concern the changes put the city on a path for litigation. “What happens in limbo when the legislation is passed and its challenged (in court)?” Yuill asked City Attorney Russell Hildebrand. “Is there any sense what will take place?” Reportedly Brown’s plan would set up boards made up of redevelopment agency stakeholders like school officials that would have the authority to decide what obligations were legally enforceable and which deals are void. Hildebrand said he’s confident the state will not be able to unbind the city’s projects. “I can’t guarantee that, but we’ve thought long and hard about this,” Hildebrand said. “We believe they are legally defensible.” The Rocklin Redevelopment Citizens Advisory Committee will hold a meeting at 7 a.m. Friday at the city council chambers, 3970 Rocklin Road. Redevelopment money shift: Library loan $440,776 Big Gun Quarry $477,755 Roundabouts $295,600 Sewer lift station $460,000 Total of all projects: $3.6 million Source: City of Rocklin