Board OKs millions of dollars in payments to Lucia Mar school district

The Lucia Mar Unified School District is one step closer to receiving millions of dollars over the next two decades from the former Pismo Beach Redevelopment Agency.

A seven-member oversight board voted recently to allow payments to continue to Lucia Mar. The final decision rests with the California Department of Finance; if approved, the district will start receiving money July 1.

The oversight board’s decision nearly brings to a close an ongoing issue between the district and the city stemming from a 1988 agreement in which the district agreed to forgo for 20 years some property tax money received by the now-dissolved Pismo Beach Redevelopment Agency. The agency was formed to improve areas of the city that are economically or physically blighted.

In return, the agency agreed to pay Lucia Mar its share of the property tax increases starting in 2009 through 2039 — nearly $12 million total — that it could use to build and maintain education facilities at its 18 schools.

But Lucia Mar officials were worried that they wouldn’t see the money after redevelopment agencies statewide were dissolved as of Feb. 1, 2012, as a way to help solve the state’s fiscal crisis. Prior to that, the Pismo Beach City Council had started taking steps to end the agency.

The payments total about $450,000 a year and would be used specifically for facilities, including paying down debt associated with a career technical education program at Arroyo Grande High School, district officials have said.

The school district and Pismo Beach also reached an agreement so that the city won’t see any decrease in tax revenues as a result. Lucia Mar agreed to pay the city to cover any decrease in revenues, which will likely amount to about $50,000 a year, according to Pismo Beach attorney Dave Fleishman.

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