(June 12, 2005) -- A showdown hearing is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. at the June 14 City Council meeting on whether the LB's City Council should declare itself the governing board of LB's Redevelopment Agency.
With a majority Council vote, LB Councilmembers could takeover running LB's Redevelopment Agency -- a separate layer of government -- that controls spending millions of dollars in RDA money from RDA-floated bonds. The bond revenue is supposed to fund RDA-approved projects to reduce RDA-declared "blight"...with the RDA bonds repaid by diverting property tax revenue increases ("tax increment") from other purposes. (Property tax is currently one of LB's City Hall's largest revenue sources.)
Over the years, LB's RDA has declared nearly half of LB's land area to be "blighted," but some activists have criticized its record in reducing blight. In many other cities, elected Councilmembers are in charge of governing Redevelopment...but in LB the incumbent non-elected RDA Board and some civic activists have fought a Council takeover, arguing that LB's non-elected RDA board is an independent balance to LB's City Council and has the expertise to deal with "blight."
Others argue exactly the opposite, that LB's non-elected RDA board is not accountable to voters...and in too many areas LB Redevelopment has failed to reduce blight as promised to taxpayers.
Other LB activists have argued that Redevelopment itself is the problem and should be halted, calling it corporate welfare for developers that diverts sorely needed property tax revenue from its usual purposes...but these issues aren't directly before the Council now.
Instead, with the support of some Redevelopment impacted activists, the incumbent non-elected RDA board commissioned an "independent study" of Redevelopment in LB. However, over the objections of other LB activists, the incumbent RDA board refused to include a formal audit in the "independent study". Among those who have argued for maintaining LB's non-elected RDA system has been LB City Auditor Gary Burroughs, who claimed it exercises a check and balance type function.
The RDA commissioned "independent study" ultimately concluded -- at a cost of over $400,000 -- that there are ways to improve LB's current non-elected RDA system.
Last year, City Manager Jerry Miller suggested that the City Council consider naming itself LB's RDA governing board following criticism of Redevelopment from a number of LB activists. The move came after City Manager Miller tapped RDA blight-fighting funds to build LBPD's North Division Police Station (which consumed part of Scherer Park)...even though previous city management indicated the police facility would be funded from other capital sources. LB's RDA board -- legally independent of LB City Hall although city staffers run many of its operations -- ultimately declared the NLB police compound to meet RDA criteria as a blight-fighting project (consuming money that might have been used for other blight-fighting projects.)
Some activists have argued that if Councilmembers (still spending in excess of revenue) get control of Redevelopment, the Council would be tempted to tap RDA even more to fund ordinary projects instead of genuinely fighting blight...and Councilmembers might be further tempted to expand Redevelopment into the remaining half of LB not currently declared "blighted" to fund continued Council deficit spending.
Editorial: "Independent Study" Of LB Redevelopment Is Up...and Redevelopment's Time Is Up
Letter Criticizing LBReport.com Editorial (above)
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