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Move afoot to stop future state raids on local money

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POSTED November 14, 2009 2:57 a.m.
California voters in November 2010 may be asked to vote for a ballot measure that significantly curtails the state’s ability to borrow or simply take money from cities and counties in order to cover state budget deficits.

The Manteca City Council when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. will consider adopting a resolution in support of the League of California Cities sponsored measure dubbed the Local Taxpayer, Public Safety and Transportation Protection Act of 2010.

Since 1990, the state has raided Manteca’s redevelopment accounts and general fund for nearly $18 million.

Manteca this fiscal year alone is losing $7.6 million to the state - $1 million in property taxes and $6.6 million in redevelopment agency funds.

The RDA money was set aside for various Manteca economic development projects such as interchange improvements that the state will no longer fund. Ironically, the state is requiring local jurisdictions to come up with the money for such improvements with RDA taxes being one of the few ways to pay for the share that is borne by existing residents without seeking bonds.

The California Redevelopment Association won a court lawsuit in April blocking such a raid. The state dropped its appeal in that lawsuit making it binding but then simply turned around and changed the language and passed a new bill. The CRA has since filed another suit in response to the new legislation.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton has noted should the CRA prevail he fully expects the state to come back at the cities to get the money from general fund sources.

The proposed ballot measure would protect locally imposed taxes such as motel room taxes, parcel taxes, utility taxes, and sales taxes such as Measure K (countywide transit tax) and Measure M (Manteca’s public safety tax) from being touched by the state.

The ballot measure would also prohibit the borrowing or stealing of public transit funds, Proposition 42 gas tax, HUTA gas tax or redevelopment agency funds.
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