Several Goleta city representatives traveled to Sacramento on Monday to discuss Governor Jerry Brown’s budget proposal with Assemblymember Das Williams and State Senator Tony Strickland.
Governor Brown’s budget adjustments will cut $1.7 billion from state’s redevelopment agencies by either eliminating them altogether or reducing their saved funding collected through city taxes. Goleta Mayor Margaret Connell, former Mayor Eric Onnen and city staff members Vyto Adomaitis and Steve Wagner talked to the statesmen to discuss the possibility of preventing these cuts and will attend the Assembly Budget Subcommittee Hearing on redevelopment to defend the city’s Redevelopment Agency.
According to Connell, the city’s Redevelopment Agency provides important relief to undeveloped areas and will provide funding for several construction projects.
“The goal of the Redevelopment Agency is to address blighted and impoverished areas,” Connell said. “A current project involves the problem with the San Jose Creek that floods Old Town Goleta when it rains. $14 million of redevelopment money is required to do this. If the redevelopment areas are eliminated, as the government is talking about, we would no longer have access to the needed money.”
Connell said the agency’s projects will create jobs and promote economic growth within the city.
“One aspect of the Redevelopment Agency is that its projects are job creators,” Connell said. “Big infrastructure projects employ lot of people and this is one argument for keeping [RDAs] in place.”
The current budget proposal will eliminate the city’s Redevelopment Agency. However, Connell said there are alternatives for restructuring the system without completely dismantling it.
“If there is as way for redevelopment agencies to voluntarily give up $1.7 billion to the state, then the state might leave the agencies intact,” Connell said. “This would leave the structures in place and the possibility to continue projects would still be there. If they were totally eliminated it would be difficult [to continue] because of the costs.”