On February 8, 2011, the Legislative Analyst's Office issued a report explaining the background of the Redevelopment Agencies – RDAs: their original purpose, what they have morphed into, and why they are being eliminated.
Among the reasons for elimination of the RDA Program is Limited Transparency and Accountability:
“Redevelopment agencies lack some of the key accountability and transparency elements common to other local agencies. Specifically, unlike other local agencies, redevelopment agencies can incur debt without voter approval. Redevelopment agencies can also redirect property tax revenues from schools and other local agencies without voter approval or the consent of the local agencies.
In addition, although redevelopment programs are authorized in state law and increase state costs, redevelopment programs lack the key accountability elements that are common to state–supported local assistance programs. Specifically, no state agency reviews redevelopment economic development activities or ensures that project areas focus on the program’s mission. We also note that use of redevelopment is not limited to communities with low property wealth—some of California’s most affluent cities have declared large sections of their jurisdictions “blighted.” ...”
Instead of closing down their RDAs the City of Imperial Beach is packing them with massive payrolls of not only their friends, but themselves.
The City of Imperial Beach lists 13 positions on the 'Approved Budget Fiscal Year 2011-2012' drawing from the RDA; but the salaries add up to $1.3 Million. That's $97,750 per person. $75,000 pads the pockets of City Attorney Jennifer Lyon, $376,350 for “Professional Services”, $792,344 for Salaries, and they even had the nerve to add $47,900 for random junk like “trips, memberships, & subscriptions”.
On pages 114 and 116 the Mayor, Council Members, City Clerk, City Manager, City Planner, Code Compliance, Finance Supervisor, Finance Director, Community Development Director, and Associate Planner are diverting part of their salaries to RDA . The only reason they could possible have for this move would be to grab power and hide their illegal activities.
The Mayor and Council Members are suppose to represent The People as the check on the City Employees. But when Council and City join together to circumvent the Law we are way out of balance.
I am an Accountant with a Masters' in Administration. I can not believe what I see – and I am not allowed access to much. The City Manager, Gary Brown, has refused access to Public Records and has refused to allow me to address the Council. I forwarded the refusal letter the City Manager sent me to the Mayor and every Councilman requesting that they over-ride the City Manager, but no one has replied.
I can see a massive shift in money in 2010, but there is no Budget available for the Year Ending 2009 available. It's not just the salaries; they are trying to shift millions of dollars to the RDA program before to avoid accountability. And avoiding accountability is the only logical reason.
This is not a budget, this is a massive power grab. Our City Attorney, Elected, & Appointed Officials are conspiring against The City itself and they must be removed immediately. What they are doing is not only illegal but immoral. We entrust them to do what is best for their Community. Instead of working to better the City they're pillaging it.
The City of Imperial Beach shows the shocking reality of RDA funding. Our City doesn't have a $300,000 shortfall, we actually millions in surplus because of massive cut backs in social programs and funding to the schools.