Fresno City Council opposes Brown's call to cut RDA funds

FRESNO, Calif.

RDA projects are supposed to pay their way by boosting the local economy and tax base.

Fresno City Council Member Larry Westerlund, who chairs the Redevelopment Agency, sees the governor's effort to take these funds as a real blow. "Redevelopment agencies are a real economic jobs generator, and this would be a real job killer."

While Governor Jerry Brown says he would use the RDA money for education, City Council member Oliver Baines sees the Governor's effort to grab these funds as an attack on poor communities. "When you think about what RDA does it affects mostly disadvantaged, blighted areas so mostly the poorer communities."

Some cities, like Los Angeles have tried to tie up their redevelopment funds with contractual commitments, to keep the money from going to the state. But with the Governor's plan under attack statewide, and possibly stalled, the Fresno City Council decided against doing anything drastic. Council Member Clint Olivier said, "We ought to proceed with caution and keep an eye on it."

So, with only a symbolic vote against the Governor's plan, the City Council, acting as the City Redevelopment Agency went on with routine business, and approved spending nearly half a million dollars to buy some abandoned properties in West Fresno. Westerlund noted RDA money doesn't come from the beleaguered city budget. "I hope folks understand they are two completely different things. Those dollars can't be used to fund police, fire or any other of that stuff. That's a completely separate pool of money designed exactly to do the stuff we did today."

But, it's a pool of money the Governor still may be eyeing.

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