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City takes on agency, and debt

Politics: City Council votes unanimously to assume control of redevelopment program that’s currently

Posted: January 24, 2012 9:56 p.m.
Updated: January 24, 2012 9:56 p.m.
 


The Santa Clarita City Council agreed Tuesday to take control of the remnants of its redevelopment agency and the agency’s $93 million debt, which may take 30 years to pay off, according to officials during a meeting in Council Chambers.

Council members voted unanimously to take charge of the redevelopment housing agency and approved a payment schedule for repaying the agency’s debts.

The city will automatically become the successor agency for the redevelopment agency Feb. 1, which means the city will be in charge of making payments toward the existing debt, collecting any payments from loans or rent and disposing of assets and properties owned by the former agency, along with other duties.

State legislators voted to eliminate redevelopment agencies as a means of balancing the state budget by reclaiming property taxes earmarked for the agencies. The state Supreme Court recently upheld the Legislature’s power to take that action, leaving cities and counties that have redevelopment agencies scrambling to deal with the sudden change.

Santa Clarita’s redevelopment agency — which only affects Newhall — is one of 425 redevelopment agencies within the state that is currently being dissolved. Many of the agencies are carrying a large amount of debt, including Santa Clarita’s agency that has been working on projects to renovate downtown Newhall for several years.

The redevelopment agency does not possess any real property because the properties were transferred to the city of Santa Clarita in March, said redevelopment manager Armine Chaparyan.

Council members had a number of questions about taking control of the redevelopment agency, including whether the city’s general fund will be affected by taking over control of the agency. Chaparyan said the general fund would not be affected.

She had previously said that the same portion of property taxes previously used to fund the agency’s projects will be used to pay down the agency’s debt.

Council members were also concerned about the housing portion of the redevelopment agency because control of any future housing projects would be handed over to Los Angeles County if the city decided not to take control — meaning that the city would not have any control over the design of future housing in the redevelopment area.

Councilman Bob Kellar said that he felt it was important that the city control the future of its redevelopment agency, although it may be difficult due to the ambiguity regarding the future of the agencies.

“I think this is a no-brainer,” Kellar said. “We’ve got to approve this for control over our city in the future.”

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