Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
In mid-2011 I wrote the following comments regarding the then active and now terminated Redevelopment District. It is good to every so often review history in order to measure the degree of success. In this case, the residents are still paying for Administration and the Council’s misuse of the RDA revenue.
“A few days ago you (the Editor) asked the question, “What would Manteca be like today had Brown killed RDAs off 15 years ago?” I would like to pose a very similar question; one that I think provides an answer. “What would Manteca be like today had the City Council focused for the past 15 years on using RDA to improve the quality of life of our residents?”
As the two questions imply, there was a choice to be made 15 years or more ago which would have resulted in different scenarios.
As we know Redevelopment was supposedly designed as a funding/financing mechanism to assist local agencies in improving the quality of life of their constituents. However, “quality of life” can be defined somewhat broadly, to include a new library, a major retail center, a homeless shelter, improved sewer infrastructure, downtown revitalization, and more. Consequently, because communities are different and priorities vary, it was left up to each agency to determine how RDA was to accomplish the task. In our case, rather than share RDA between the development community and the needs of the residents, the City Council focused on investing the community’s increasing tax increment (property tax revenue) on developer development projects under the auspices of economic development.
Had Brown killed off RDA 15 years ago, I believe that Manteca would be considerably different today; simply because the tax increment utilized by RDA would have been used instead to improve quality of life conditions in the community.
Granted, the growth of the tax increment would have been slower, and consequently the revenue stream needed for the community amenities and improvements would have been slow in coming. Not such a bad proposition because this simply means that the community would have spent what it actually earned and the resulting brick and mortar projects would have enhanced the lives of our residents. Instead, the City Council elected to encumber Manteca residents by accelerating the tax increment growth process, then to leverage (collateralize) the future tax increment increase to secure loans to generate funds for new commercial developments that enhanced the lives of others.
Given the results from the past 15 years, I believe the difference between the two scenarios is rather obvious. Today we have several new major commercial retail centers, with the prospect of others to come. Yet, we still do not have housing affordable to our existing and the new workforce, downtown continues to deteriorate, the public library is growing smaller, city hall and the police have outgrown their facilities, there is no community cultural/arts center, routine infrastructure maintenance is delayed, a needed new fire station is postponed, city staff offices are relocated into a well house, cut-rate streets paving is utilized, needed roadway circulation improvements are deferred, and so on. On a more positive note however, after 40 years a new municipal maintenance yard and an animal shelter are finally under construction.
If RDA ceased today the process of repairing the fiscal damage to the community created by a decision to focus RDA revenue away from meeting the community’s needs, will take decades. Why, because the City Council has affectively encumbered for decades to come most of the community’s future tax increment and resources for investment in private new development.”