By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
States RDA money grab costs jobs of 3 city workers
Placeholder Image
Three City of Manteca planning technicians lost their jobs after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move to commandeer $2.05 billion in redevelopment funds was upheld in court.

Manteca last week complied with the court ruling and sent their share of the money being taken - $6,657,835 - to the State of California. The court ruling also allows the state to take another $1.4 million next year in Manteca RDA funds.

At the same time, Manteca laid off three planning technicians. The Community Development Department has been operating on a Manteca RDA loan since the start of the fiscal year as municipal leaders scrambled to find ways to keep municipal services going in the face of a dwindling general fund.

It is only the second time in recent municipal history that Manteca has laid off workers. The first came in mid-October of last year when the Manteca Police Officers Association opted against salary reductions that would have kept 12 officers from losing their jobs. Several of those officers have found employment elsewhere including one hired back by Manteca to fill a community service officer vacancy.

Manteca is also saving money by having Public Works engineer Fredric Clark serve as the interim community development director in the aftermath of Mark Nelson’s departure from that position.

The state swiping of RDA funds is expected to put more pressure on the city to implement cost recovery charges for whatever planning services they can whether it is processing a water heater installation permit for a homeowner or a project map for a developer.

City Manager Steve Pinkerton said steps have already been taken to make sure service levels – the expedient processing of permits for building and business - don’t drop.

Pinkerton said it is a matter of looking for more and more ways to be as efficient as possible.

Manteca, unlike neighboring cities, has had a steady stream of construction and projects being processed although it is at levels roughly a half of what they were four years ago.

The money the city is losing is part of $2.05 billion in redevelopment agency statewide that Judge Lloyd Connelly ruled earlier this month the state can take to help balance the $20 billion deficit.

Pinkerton has noted Manteca has adequate reserves in its RDA accounts to still service debt and have money left over even after the state hijacks the money. There are more than a few municipal RDAs in California that don’t have that luxury and will face defaulting on their RDA debt.

Last time around, the judge ruled against the state because they simply said they were going to take the money and use it to balance the budget. State law prohibits RDA money to be used for anything other than what RDA rules allow as written by the California legislature.

The state simply rewrites the rules. Their plan is to shift the money in every RDA agency boundaries to the local school system and then reduce the state funding to the school district by the same amount. The end result is $2.05 billion to help go toward other state budget needs.

The state has been repeating the strategy of taking from local agencies in deficit situation since the early 1990s. Manteca alone has lost over $18 million in local revenue in the last two decades to the state balancing their budget on the backs of local government.

Measure qualifies for state ballot
A measure has qualified for the November ballot that would effectively block future raids on local revenue.

A Manteca Chamber of Commerce resolution adopted last year in support of the ballot measure notes that voters previously have passed measures to prevent the state from taking local revenues dedicated to funding local services and transportation improvement projects yet the state continued to seize billions.

The resolution also notes the impact that the borrowing and raids on local government money had this year is in the form of public safety layoffs, fire station closures, and delays in road improvement, stalled economic development, and a reduction in other municipal services.

The resolution states in part that “politicians in Sacramento have continued to ignore the will of the voters, and current law provides no penalties when state politicians take or borrow these locally dedicated funds.”

The ballot measure would close loopholes and change the constitution to prevent state politicians in Sacramento from seizing, diverting, shifting, borrowing, transferring suspending, or otherwise taking or interfering with local tax revenues. That includes redevelopment, general fund money, transportation improvement projects, and mass transit.