Tuesday Feb 03 2009
Redevelopment shift a brake on economy
By: John Allard Roseville City Councilman
California’s economy is in a fragile and precarious position. With declining revenues the state is considering draconian cuts while the federal government considers massive infusions of cash to stabilize the economy. What our state and federal leadership needs to recognize is that there already exists a job-creating engine that is stimulating local economics and revitalizing blighted areas – local redevelopment agencies. Local governments are suffering from declines in revenue and other economic factors and are facing difficult budget decisions – and for some, even the threat of bankruptcy – on a daily basis. What expenses does one slash in the city budget that will not compromise public safety, essential city services or job-creating infrastructure projects? We cannot afford to reduce our commitment to basic city services during the recession. Public safety, jobs, environmental quality, and community revitalization and business development are now under tremendous pressure and would only be more at risk. In a climate of economic uncertainty, local public safety and other basic services provide a community safety net. Taking local money would increase public concerns about personal, job and financial security. Ripple effects will ensue. A lack of investment in our communities will result in deteriorating neighborhoods, rising crime rates, more fear and uncertainty amongst the public, and discourage private investors just when we need them. It’s truly dangerous economic policy for the state to stifle local investments that are so vital, including infrastructure and redevelopment projects that produce jobs and are essential for state and local economic recovery. Raiding local government and redevelopment funding is essentially raiding existing stimulus programs and is a step in the wrong direction. Redevelopment is the state’s only ongoing economic stimulus tool. Taking redevelopment funds – or any local revenues – is short-sighted and threatens the state’s long-term financial recovery. Annually, redevelopment projects generate 310,000 good-paying jobs, $32 billion in total economic activity and $1.6 billion in state and local taxes. With unemployment numbers soaring, California can’t afford another unconstitutional taking of redevelopment funds such as the $350 million adopted to close the current 2008-09 deficit. These cuts reduce state and local tax revenues by $208 million and cut 31,058 jobs – that’s $2.34 billion in lost income of which $1.28 billion is in the construction sector. Redevelopment creates jobs, provides housing, supports smart growth principles, leverages funds from other sources (bonds, grants, and private investment), and eliminates blight. What does this state taking of redevelopment funds mean to Placer County in 2009? The County Redevelopment Agency will lose $656,822, $56,884 will be lost by Auburn, Lincoln’s loss totals $179,381, while Rocklin will lose $343,630. In Roseville, we will lose $475,981. Total loss to Placer County – more than $1.71 million and an estimated 151 jobs. As Main Street copes with its own economic recovery it would be wise for the state to leave local and redevelopment monies alone to work as they always have – for the betterment of California’s communities and economy. – John Allard is the owner of a small business and a Roseville City Councilman since 2003. He serves as chairman of the Roseville Revitalization Com-mittee and is immediate past chairman of the Placer County Economic Development Board.