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New library, History Museum could be sold

Mayor vows to "protect our interests" from state-mandated liquidation
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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The state’s decision to abolish redevelopment agencies has members of the Rocklin City Council and Rocklin Historical Society sitting on pins and needles. “No new deals and no additional monies,” City Manager Rick Horst announced during Tuesday’s City Council meeting. The law abolishing about 400 redevelopment agencies throughout California was passed last summer and upheld by the State Supreme Court on Dec 29. That means funding for the Rocklin Redevelopment Agency will be terminated. As a result, the city will lose control of $54 million of the tax increment derived from redevelopment agency funds over the next three decades. Debt already incurred by the agency could take 27 years to completely pay off, according to city officials. “We struggle with what this means,” Mayor Brett Storey said. At issue Tuesday night was the provision that mandates the assets of Rocklin’s agency be sold off to help California cover its growing deficit. “We’ll just be able unwind the deals we have. Some of those will unwind quickly. Some of those may take years,” Horst said. The real estate assets purchased with redevelopment agency funds include the new library on Rocklin Road, the Rocklin Historical Museum, The Big Gun Quarry and two vacant lots near downtown. “It will come forward to the successor agency to resolve every one of those issues,” Storey said. City Council members unanimously approved a resolution to make itself the Rocklin Redevelopment Agency’s successor agency, which is allowed under the new law. The decision would give the city the ability to monitor potential liquidation. Storey said that process could take a while. “It could be months. It could be by 2016 or the State Public (Finance Division) could turn around tomorrow and say, ‘sell them all,’” Storey said. “We hope to delay that or protect our interests.” City officials are hoping a clause in the law would allow an exception for certain government-owned and used properties to be protected from liquidation. Horst indicated both the library and museum could be saved. “We think that will be in the effort (by the city) to retain those and have those turned over most likely to the city, if that be (the council’s) decision,” Horst said. “There is no value to (them) other than to the public.” Of concern to some Rocklin Historical Society members, however, was the lack of enthusiasm by city officials to save the Big Gun Quarry from sale, a possibility that was not raised during the public meeting. Currently, the city is facing a potential legal battle with the Rocklin Heritage Committee over its handling of the Environmental Impact report for the proposed demolition of the historical quarry work sheds on Pacific Street. Members of the historical society want to save the site for development, while the city has indicated the century old buildings pose a safety hazard and need to be dismantled. Last month, Rocklin Heritage Committee member Carol Ellis submitted nomination papers for the site to the National Register of Historic Places. Storey vowed the city would fight the effort, which he believes, is a barrier to development. To complicate the problem even further, there is a concern about the composition of the Oversight Board. As a checks and balance measure, each redevelopment agency being dissolved will be required to establish one to oversee the liquidation decisions. “At least one representative from this body will serve on an Oversight Board,” Horst explained. “They would have authority to accept a recommendation or overrule them.” Horst indicated that Lincoln, Roseville and Placer County are expected to have separate Oversight Boards to evaluate the dismantling of their agencies. Horst said who exactly will serve on Rocklin’s board is still being discussed with county officials. Members of the California Legislature have vowed to reform the law. “We want to make sure our state representatives keep close to this,” Storey said. “The last thing we want to do is figure out the best way to protect our property for our citizens and at the last minute have it overturned.”