Law & Legal & Attorney Politics

Protecting Affordable Housing Funding

Nearly every state in America is facing a budget shortfall this year.
Governors and state legislators are proposing budgets that reduce spending for programs that are needed and often popular.
They argue that, given current fiscal problems, there is no alternative but to make these difficult choices.
Though many residents agree that changes are needed, and some are even willing to make sacrifices of their own, they are not willing to give up everything.
California is one state where this has become abundantly clear.
Earlier this year, California's newly elected Governor submitted his proposed budget for the state.
It included significant funding reductions for some California programs, and outright elimination of others, including city redevelopment agencies.
As word spread that California Governor Jerry Brown intends to dissolve redevelopment agencies and redistribute the money to school districts and counties, some cities were fighting back.
City council members in Culver City, Citrus Heights, Santa Monica and Pasadena have all either consider transferring redevelopment funds directly to the city, or have already approved the transfers.
The move has received mixed reactions.
Some, including the Governor's office and the California Professional Firefighters organization, have expressed disapproval.
Others, however, have defended city actions, saying the money they spend on affordable housing and other redevelopment projects is vital for creating jobs and growing the economy.
Redevelopment agencies were first formed in California more than 60 years ago and there are over 400 of them in the state.
The agencies are funded using "tax increments," increases in taxes that are created when the value of revitalized property increases.
The amount of the increase is diverted to the local redevelopment agency to pay for local development projects.
In other words, if taxes on a particular property increase from $2,500 to $3,000 per year, that $500 increase goes to the redevelopment agency.
Governor Brown defends his budget proposal by saying it would divert over $1 billion to schools, police and fire safety, and other necessary services.
City officials thought the dispute over redevelopment funds had been settled last year, when California citizens voted in favor of a proposition that prohibits the state from taking redevelopment money from the agencies.
However, the ordinance only protects the money, not the agencies themselves, which gives Governor Brown the freedom to eliminate them altogether.
Both the Governor's office and RDA supporters are holding their ground.
Other states are watching California closely to see how the situation progresses.
Success in California could lead other states to try similar tactics in their ongoing attempts to resolve their budget crises.

Leave a reply