City takes steps to rework redevelopment debt load
The Claremont Oversight Board, successor to the city’s dissolved Redevelopment Agency, met for the first time Wednesday evening to take one of the first steps toward implementing Governor Brown’s decision to eliminate the state’s RDAs.
In the years to follow, the 7-member board will be responsible for making sure the debts of Claremont’s redevelopment agency are repaid in the aftermath of its dissolve, which took effect early February. Claremont RDA debts total an estimated $16.4 million.
“All the work and no money,” joked City Manager Tony Ramos at Wednesday night’s board meeting.
In an unanimous decision, the board elected CUSD assistant superintendent Lisa Shoemaker to serve as chair of the group, which is tasked with seeing the RDA’s obligated payment schedule is paid back in full. Claremont City Manager Tony Ramos will serve as vice chairman. Other members include Sue Keith, representative of the local community college district as well as Suzanne Manriquez, Gary Hertzberg and Carol Jacques, all selected by Supervisor Gloria Molina to serve as county representatives.
Chief among its first duties, the board approved 2 obligation payment schedules mandated by the new statute. Successor agencies must submit these schedules for every 6-month fiscal period until all RDA debts are repaid. Included in the 2 approved payment schedules (dated February 1 through June 30 and July 1 through December 31) is about $667,000 of a $9 million tax refunding bond from 2001 relating to low-moderate income housing projects, and $442,000 of a $6.5 million bond from 2004 described as funding “various redevelopment projects.” The approved payment schedules will now be sent to the Los Angeles County Auditor-Controller, which will then send funds to the successor agency in accordance with its repayment obligations.
Within this payment schedule, an estimated $250,000 will also be allocated for administrative costs to compensate for the “winding down” of the redevelopment agency if the money is available.
“This is the lowest priority,” said Ms. Shoemaker, while also noting the city’s extra work in taking on the duties of the successor agency. “We want to make sure they are compensated appropriately.”
The board also assumed the role of the successor agency to the Low and Moderate Housing Fund. The city has been acting as the successor since the RDA’s elimination.
Governor Jerry Brown approved 2 Assembly bills last June calling for the immediate suspension of the redevelopment agency’s power with the exception of existing contractual obligations.
An appeal was pleaded soon after, led by the California Redevelopment Agency and League of California Cities. However, the appeal was dismissed by the California State Supreme Court in late December. As a result, millions of dollars from property tax accrued from redevelopment projects will be redistributed to the city, school district and county, among other state-funded services.
Cities across the state are forming successor agencies, like Claremont’s oversight board, to make the transition as smooth as possible.
The board will meet again in the fall to approve the next set of ROPS with the possibility of a couple special meetings to be held in in the meantime. Assistant City Manager Colin Tudor will act as the board’s contact person to the city’s director of finance in regards to actions taken by the successor agency.
Resolution to make Claremont Fair Trade leader up for review
The Claremont City Council will review a resolution this Tuesday, April 24, to designate Claremont as a Fair Trade town. If approved, Claremont will be the first city in southern California to receive the distinction.
Founded by Joe and Linda Michon in 2011, a group called Fair Trade Claremont brought the resolution before the city to help promote the sale of products that are not only economically sustainable, but from companies that support safe and environmentally-friendly workplaces.
“Fair trade is not charity. It’s giving people a dignified way to participate in this world economy, and the Claremont community is catching onto it really quickly,” Ms. Michon said in a previous interview with the COURIER. “Everybody wants to be fair and to help give other people a dignified, whole way to live.”
In order to qualify as a Fair Trade Town, 5 goals must be met, according to the qualifications provided by Fair Trade Towns USA. The first goal is to form a steering committee, followed by a wide availability of Fair Trade products, support from local organizations and community groups, media attention, and a city statement supporting the movement.
Establishing a city resolution supporting Fair Trade is the last step needed to obtain the Fair Trade designation, which will place Claremont on the organization’s network of participating cities throughout the world. The status will help further market Claremont, according to the Michons. More than 20 local shops, markets and restaurants are already on board selling fair-traded products.
Other items for council discussion include approving a $60,000 match for the 2012-2013 Bicycle Transportation Account (BTA) Call for Projects Requesting Funding for Implementation of Bicycle Safety Improvements. The money will be drawn from funds made available by the Transportation Development Act and the Air Quality Management District programs. Also, an appeal will be heard from a farmer wishing to sell crops on vacant property at 1555 W. Base Line Rd.
The city council meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chamber, 225 W. Second St. The full agenda can be accessed from the city’s website at www.ci.claremont.ca.us.