The fight to save redevelopment agencies

MERCED COUNTY

Three Merced County mayors spoke out against the plan, which they say will devastate their communities.

This Costco has created nearly 200 jobs in Merced since opening in the early 90's. And it resulted in more than six and half million dollars in city, county, and state sales tax revenue in the last year alone. That's according to local officials who list it as one of many positive projects made possible by Merced's Redevelopment Agency.

Mayor Bill Spriggs said, "Redevelopment has supported projects that have created 1,371 private sector jobs in this community."

Mayor Spriggs touted the agency's achievements outside a senior center that's across the street from a senior apartment complex and next door to a youth center, all of which are redevelopment projects. The agency also played a key role in bringing the Main Place Cinema to downtown, and it contributes hundreds of thousands of dollars to the local library.

Mayor Spriggs said, "This is the last tool that communities have to do real economic development. It's the only tool we have to invest in ourselves."

Spriggs joined the leaders of Gustine and Atwater in slamming Governor Jerry Brown's plan to eliminate redevelopment agencies. But the governor says doing so would save more than one billion dollars that could go directly to essential services. His office issued this statement to Action News. "Every taxpayer dollar that goes to a redevelopment agency is a dollar taken away from students, police officers, fire fighters and emergency medical care for the most vulnerable."

A recent report by State Controller John Chiang also found some redevelopment agencies had misused funds and lacked proper oversight. But Atwater's mayor says that's not the case in Merced County. "We monitor the redevelopment funds on a yearly basis. We know exactly where all the funds are and where they're going."

Joan Faul says her city's new Walmart Supercenter, Super Target, and surrounding shopping center would not have been possible without a redevelopment agency.

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