Thursday, January 26, 2012
One of Ray Corpuz’s final acts as Seaside city manager was to issue an immediate spending freeze, impacting all vacant full-time positions – except, apparently, his own. Corpuz, who was out of the office as the Weekly went to press, starts work as Salinas city manager next week.
“The municipal code isn’t set up to allow, for example, me to manage the city,” Mayor Felix Bachofner says.
The new city manager will lead a staff whittled down by the recession, and made even skinnier by the recent California Supreme Court ruling dismantling local redevelopment agencies. The loss will hobble Seaside’s general fund to the tune of $1.5 million, Corpuz wrote in a Jan. 5 staff memo.
The City Council has named itself the agency’s successor, tasked with offloading the city’s redevelopment properties and paying off obligations. Officials seem unsure how exactly that will shake out.
“There are so many unknowns in this new wild world of California redevelopment,” says Bachofner, who voted against the motion because staff didn’t have data on the associated fiscal implications. “We can’t make a financial decision that’s worth tens of millions of dollars on not enough information.”
California cities are being rushed by a court-imposed deadline dissolving redevelopment agencies Feb. 1. Seaside Deputy City Manager Daphne Hodgson says public agencies from the local to state levels are scrambling to sort out the repercussions. “It’s so complex and confusing at this point,” she says. “Nobody really knows all of the details.”
The shrinkage of city staff has been happening in slow-motion throughout the recession, she adds. “We’ve really had a hiring freeze for quite a while. The loss of the Redevelopment Agency just makes matters worse.”
Meanwhile Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, is pushing SB 659 to soften the blow as redevelopment agencies are dissolved. “It’s asking for breathing room to create a more practical timeline for addressing a long list of concerns,” he says.
At press time, the bill was stalled in the Legislature. Even if it passes, Gov. Jerry Brown – who has criticized the growth of redevelopment as a percentage of real estate taxes – is unlikely to sign it. “I don’t think we can delay this funeral,” he told press in Los Angeles last week.
Alejo opposed the elimination of redevelopment agencies, instead proposing a set of money-saving reforms. “It’s places like Seaside and the Salinas Valley that really need these tools to bring employers into the communities,” he says. “The bigger question is whether there’s the will in Sacramento to have another economic development program arise from the ashes of redevelopment agencies.”