RDA Oversight Board meets

June 01, 2012
Santa Paula News

The Oversight Board of the Designated Local Authority (DLA) for the former Redevelopment Agency (RDA) of the City of Santa Paula met May 14 to select officers as well as to get RDA/DLA members up to speed on the process.

One thing addressed was the $250,000 minimum the RDA/DLA budget allotted each year to the panel from the state to wind the former redevelopment agency down. 

The minimum $250,000 annual budget is a surprise: the City Council’s decision to pass on dismantling the RDA was primarily based on information they received from staff that the figure was the total budget for the dissolution of redevelopment, not the amount they would have access to each year to cover costs, including staff time related to the effort.

Santa Paula is the only city in Ventura County that passed on overseeing the dissolution of its Redevelopment Agency, created in the early 1990s. The council opted in January to not take over as the successor agency for RDA and its business, which includes debts totaling about $5.4 million and the housing set aside fund of about $1.9 million.

The council’s action came after the California Supreme Court ruled in December to allow the state to abolish redevelopment agencies funded by property taxes. Under the ruling, Santa Paula and other cities had until January 31 to name a successor agency. More than 400 redevelopment agencies in California ceased to exist on February 1.

Santa Paula’s agency has two properties in its portfolio: the long vacant Tower Theater and the South Paseo, which provides access from South Alley parking to the downtown. The Paseo has a retail store, small office, and public restrooms. 

According to the agenda document for the May 14 meeting, about $1.2 million is due in the coming year on the outstanding debt. The agency also estimates its administrative costs for six months to be $75,516.

Governor Jerry Brown appointed Sidney White of Ventura - he was also named chairman - to the authority panel that includes David Maron of Camarillo and Rodney Diamond of Newbury Park. Former Fire Chief and Interim City Manager Paul Skeels and Assistant to the City Manager Elisabeth Amador were appointed to the board by the council. 

Also serving are Bill Bartels of Fillmore (appointed by the Board of Supervisors), Cathy Bojorquez of the Santa Paula School District, Matt Carroll representing the County of Ventura, David Keebler of the Ventura Community College District, and Janice Turner, also representing the County of Ventura. Santa Paula Deputy City Clerk Peggy Higgins and Treasurer Sandy Easley are temporarily serving - their salaries are being covered by the annual budget - and Ky Spangler is the assistant to the board. 

White announced at the May 14 meeting that Maron had resigned and he had notified the governor’s office. White was not sure if another appointment would be made.

Miller noted that only seven local jurisdictions in the state opted out of being their own RDA successor agencies. The panel, he added works with the state Department of Finance.

Miller said the $41,000 annual lease for the California Oil Museum is also being examined, as it is paid by the RDA. He also noted the city might be interested in discussions on the fate of South Paseo.

Bartels was nominated to be chairman and Skeels vice chair, and White suggested that meetings be held as needed. Properties will be appraised, legal issues studied and books examined, utilizing consultants as needed.

Bartels agreed with White - who had already toured RDA-related properties - that “walking the assets” is important for the full panel, as is determining pass-through agreements for entities such as the school districts and the library that were entitled to a portion of the property tax funneled to the RDA.

The deadline to dissolve the agency is 2016.

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