By Katrina Van Duzee/Garden Grove Journal
Garden Grove Council members somberly took the first step towards going along with the state’s $8 million takeaway of local redevelopment funds Tuesday, in order for redevelopment projects to continue.
“It’s a shame that the state of California due to their own poor choices and mismanagement have to dump off problems like this on the city and do a money grab to balance their own budget,” Mayor Pro Tempore Steve Jones said.
The council voted unanimously to consider a resolution to enter into the state’s Voluntary Redevelopment Program in order to continue projects now at risk such as the Great Wolf resort complex and mixed-use Lili Garden Plaza.
On June 28, 2011 the governor signed two trailer bills, ABX1 26 and 27 requiring agencies to annually redirect a portion of their funds to the county auditor-controller by Oct. 1 or be dissolved. The amount Garden Grove will have to pay is an estimated $8 million for 2011-2012, but the actual total will not be revealed until Aug. 1, according to city staff.
“We have to surrender this time to the state in order to protect our future revenue,” Council member Dina Nguyen said.
Garden Grove plans to use $5 million from the cities low and moderate income housing fund and a loan from the general fund to pay this hefty sum.
“I understand redevelopment is integral to our financial situation in the city at this point, but it seems like $8 million is quite a lot of money and I hope it was budgeted into our already tight annual budget,” resident Peggy Bergin said.
The alternative to joining the Voluntary Redevelopment Program is to stop redevelopment, cash out the existing assets and pay some of the funds towards state-funded services, mainly schools.
“Understand that redevelopment funds come directly from local property taxes that would otherwise pay for schools and core city and county services such as police and fire protection and care for the most vulnerable people in our society,” Governor Jerry Brown said in his State of the State Address.
The state assisted in the creation of redevelopment agencies in 1945 to simulating investment in blighted areas.
These agencies are funded through diverting property taxes that would otherwise go to local, county and state coffers.
Mayor Bill Dalton ended the city council meeting by asking citizens to take a look at old pictures of the hotels lining Harbor Boulevard once plagued with prostitution and see how much redevelopment has boosted the city’s image and funds.
“It’s unfortunate were forced to agree to a ‘voluntary’ program to join back into redevelopment, but we have to. There are too many projects at stake that the city relies upon,” Jones said.