Friday, January 13, 2012

Redevelopment Funds

At its best, SweeeeetOakland delivers local political news in addition to info about super-amazing-rad-beyond-belief events (if I do say so :). We have therefore been doing our best to research and keep abreast of the Redevelopment Funds Court Decision that is causing tidal-style waves through the city's government at this very moment. As usual, others have done a more fantastic job of covering it than we have the ability to, so following is a quick summary and some good links:

It goes something like this - Redevelopment funds are a form of Tax Increment Financing. Basically that means that you are borrowing money with the idea of using it to make improvements which will result in increased revenue in the future - equal or more than the original loan. So I borrow money, build a park in an abandoned lot, housing values in the area rise, I collect more in property tax, which pays for the loan, and everyone wins (in an ideal world at least).

Oakland relies a lot on this financing, in past years, using redevelopment funds to pay for almost half of the salaries of it's city employees. This year because of fiscal projections we (Oakland) budgeted close to 200 (rather than the historic 1000+) positions out of these funds, including half the mayors salary.

It gets complicated because the Tax Increment Financing process mostly doesn't take place directly through the city. Instead there are Redevelopment Agencies which envision these projects, access the funding, and then funnel some of the money back to the municipality after of course taking a cut for their own purposes.

Last week the California Supreme Court ruled that these agencies, in their current iteration, need to be shut down. That means the delivery of funds to local government is now severely in question. Many or all of the employees whose salaries are paid from these funds, or whose job is involved in it, will be getting lay-off slips soon.

What will take the place of the disbanded agencies is still up in the air, so continue following this story, educate yourself about it, and when it comes time to build something like them again, lend your voice to the discussion!


Overview and History 

Sad that this is happening

Good that it is happening