SRJC up against redevelopment for funding

Brutus Gruey, Co-Editor-in-Chief
April 9, 2012

The California Community College System (CCCS) could lose almost $300 million from the 2011-2012 academic year—up to a $5-7.5 million loss for SRJC.

The CCCS will lose $149 million because the state’s assessment of student fees and property taxes was too low.
The additional loss comes from Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to take $147 million in general fund dollars from CCCS expecting the money to be back-filled by closing redevelopment agencies across California.

“The proposal assumes that community colleges will receive an off-setting amount from the wind-down of redevelopment agencies,” said Scott Lay, chancellor of the CCCS.

No money has been freed up for SRJC through the winding down of local redevelopment projects.
“What the government has done,” said Vice President of Business Services Doug Roberts, “is pit a lot of local agencies against each other.”

Santa Rosa’s oversight board, the new overseer of ongoing redevelopment projects, approved spending $19.5 million for projects on March 26. The projects would transform a shopping center in Roseland into a commerce and residential complex, complete street, sidewalk and lighting upgrades to a stretch of Highway 12 north of Sonoma and fund numerous smaller projects.

The CCCS, unlike the K-12 educations system, is not guaranteed all its funding from the state. The state will not reimburse the CCCS if money from redevelopment projects do not cover the loss.

“If every previously planned RDA project were approved, and zero dollars came to community colleges… SRJC is looking at another $2.5-3 million loss,” said Roberts who sits on the oversight board.

Santa Rosa’s oversight board approved all the projects unanimously, save Robert’s vote. He recused himself from the overall vote after recusing himself from two smaller items.

Roberts said he recused himself on the smaller items because they had agreements with the Small Business Development Center, which is directly associated with SRJC.

The projects are supposed to improve property values, which theoretically increases property taxes for SRJC. “The vote is not simply a choice that is ‘one in favor of the other; it’s an issue of timing, what’s best for the community, in the long run, and the immediacy of the threat being held over community colleges by the Governor due to an inequity in the Education Code for guaranteed Proposition 98 funding,” Roberts said.

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