Atascadero City Council won’t wait for court on funding

The Atascadero City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday that using nearly $600,000 mostly in general funds for economic stimulus projects normally paid for with redevelopment money is worth the risk, even if the state dissolves redevelopment agencies.

The move is one more step in the battle between cities and the state in Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to eliminate redevelopment agencies, which use property tax revenue to revitalize blighted areas.

Brown wants to take some of that money and redirect it to education and other spending.

The California Supreme Court says it will rule on the issue by January 2012.

Meanwhile, Atascadero will continue a number of revitalization programs.

If the Supreme Court rules in favor of California cities, Atascadero’s redevelopment agency will reimburse the city.

The projects and programs selected will cost the general fund $417,800 and take $153,000 in developer impact fees.

Much of downtown Atascadero’s revamped look, new business and economic stimulus exist because of the city’s redevelopment agency.

The council asked whether it could wait on a decision until after the court rules, but staff said the money is needed for ongoing projects and will help pump funds into the local economy.

That means major projects like the city’s new downtown pedestrian bridge won’t lose momentum.

“This moves cash flow toward these projects to keep them moving. It keeps people working and continues with city goals,” Assistant City Manager Jim Lewis said.

Continuing with the city’s restaurant stimulus loan program is among them. The city’s façade program also helped pay for the signs at new business Maci’s Deli & Drinkery to offset costs.

Also saved will be the city’s low-income housing ventures, the office of Economic Development and the permit waiver program for commercial expansions or new business. Time-sensitive events were also chosen, such as maintaining the city’s tourism booth at Savor the Central Coast and holiday celebrations.