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Court stops state from taking $1.3M
Ruling means Manteca RDA wont lose money again to state
Manteca Redevelopment Agency loans – that have since been paid back with inertest - were critical to get infrastructure in place to convert the shuttered Spreckels Sugar plant into a teeming retail and employment center project. - photo by Bulletin file photo
A court decision last week improved Manteca’s budget outlook and made the state’s woes – and that of local school districts - a bit bleaker.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd Connelly ruled a state law enacted last year allowing the legislature to tap redevelopment agencies coffers to help balance the state budget was unconstitutional.

The lawsuit by the California Redevelopment Association means the Manteca Redevelopment Agency won’t lose $1.377 million in RDA receipts to the state. The California Legislature had decided to shift $350 million statewide from redevelopment agencies into the Education Revenue Augmentation Fund (ERAF).

Since 1991, the state has “borrowed” $18.7 million from the Manteca RDA by shifting it to ERAF for funding the state’s share of public schools. This year the state proposed paying the money they wanted to take back with interest although it was clear if that was the case it would put additional stress on future state budgets.

“We fully expect the court decision to be appealed by the state,” said Manteca City Manager Steve Pinkerton who is also the executive director of the Manteca RDA.

Redevelopment’s imprint on Manteca’s economy is highly visible — Spreckels Park, Stadium Retail Center, Big League Dreams sports complex, Kelley Brothers Brewing Co. and the downtown streetscape improvements are among them.

But there are far more “little” examples ranging from the once-crime plagued Union Court Apartments that are now a safe haven for low-income families and other housing projects such as Almond Terrance for low-income seniors, businesses such as Mountain Valley Express and Manteca Veterinary Hospital that have benefited from low-cost construction loans, to hundreds upon hundreds of low income senior citizens homeowners who have benefited from outright grants to make health and safety improvements to their houses.

Due to massive shifts in how government is funded after passage of Proposition 13 in June 1978 and subsequent decisions by the California Legislature to siphon off local funding sources so they don’t have to curb spending at their level when the state budget goes into major deficits, the RDA is the only reliable source cities have to fund infrastructure needed to help local economies grow.

The success of Spreckels Park generated the tax increment needed to put infrastructure in place for the Stadium Retail Center as well as build the Big League Dreams complex and is paving the way for the lifestyle center.

Conservative estimates put the ultimate value of the mall project will be in excess of $250 million. That means $2.5 million more in property taxes will be generated with large chunk going to the RDA.

Critics say that the RDA robs property tax sources for the city. But that is no longer the case. The city only gets 12 percent of all property taxes collected from the basic assessment rolls due to decisions by the California Legislature. By comparison, almost 90 cents of every dollar of property tax paid into the RDA stays in Manteca.

Manteca has two extremely successful examples of RDA-private sector partnership, both of which got underway about 10 years ago — Kelley Brothers Brewing Co. and Spreckels Park.