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April 13, 2004 > Meeting of the City Council of Union City and the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Union City

Meeting of the City Council of Union City and the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Union City

by Notes by Jeremy Inman

Start: 7:50

The first item of the night was the resolution of an economic development administration grant. The Western Regional Office of the Economic Development Administration has invited the City to submit an application to the Washington D.C. office to fund drainage improvements for the PG&E, Shelton, and PSSC properties. Staff requested an adoption of a resolution authorizing staff to apply for the grant. Approved.

The remainder of the evening consisted of a joint meeting between the City Council and the Redevelopment project Area Committee (RePAC) to discuss capitol projects and staffing options funded by the Redevelopment Agency. Staff presented capitol investment plan options and a five year implementation plan. The staff report expanded on the bonding capacity scenarios described in the March 17 staff report. The March 17 report considered possible bonding capacity (or capacity to issue bonds for projects) scenarios with the continued use of Redevelopment Tax Increment to fund staff positions.

The staff report made the following point: the more money the Agency allocates to staffing for "only one year", the higher the Agency’s bonding capacity will be. The staff asserted that restricting staffing contributions, that is, money paying for staff positions, for shorter intervals increases the Agency’s bonding capacity for the fiscal year of 04/05. Staff followed this point by suggesting that it is important for the Redevelopment Agency to note that just because it has additional bonding capacity does not mean that it should issue additional bonds. It was suggested that the Agency only issue additional bonds if it has identified top priority projects that would require funding within the next three years.

Special legal considerations were reported as to the use of Redevelopment expenditures to fund municipal services. Criteria were suggested that would withstand legal scrutiny if adhered to when using Redevelopment Agency funds for other purposes, such as staffing. The criteria are: The expenditure activity directly serves the project area and only tangentially serves the balance of the community. The funded service is not a service that is generally provided outside the project area. The expenditure activity cannot be classified as general operation or maintenance of a public facility. The expenditure activity cannot reasonably be funded from other municipal sources, and does not involve a substitution of redevelopment funds for general municipal revenues. The Expenditure activity is directly tied to the goals and objectives of the redevelopment plan and is related to elimination of blight factors identified in qualifying the project area for redevelopment. Finally, the expenditure activity is linked to the physical redevelopment of the project area. Summing this up was the fact that it would be considered legitimate to use Redevelopment funds to pay for staffing as long as the individual who was being paid was in some way directly linked to the project in question. Staff then requested that the Agency Board and RePAC provide feedback.

Following staff’s presentation, RePAC voiced concerns as to the usage of Redevelopment funding. Committee member Jerry Catanzano replied that RePAC did not want to use the tax increment to pay salaries or for housing, but for redevelopment projects. Needless to say, RePAC is reluctant to staff other positions using Redevelopment funding. Catanzano says, “If we have excess, let’s keep it,” and that, “Redevelopment is Redevelopment.” RePAC also asserted that it needed to meet with the Council on a far more frequent basis. Apparently, other committees have been granted sufficient time with the council in the form of Saturday work sessions, whereas the city would only grant RePAC a joint meeting at a Tuesday night regular city council meeting. Much of the meeting consisted of RePAC voicing concerns as to the failure of the process with which they are trying to complete their goals.

When the matter was opened to the public, concerns flew in from all across the board. Many of the questions and comments were unrelated to the topic at hand. Mayor Green attempted to redirect the conversation by suggesting that the meeting not be used for venting frustration, but for producing something positive. RePAC reiterated the fact that there needs to be more communication between staff, the Council, and RePAC, and that they were reluctant to use Redevelopment money for anything but Redevelopment.

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