Oversight panel stumped on stadium financing deal

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Oversight Panel charged with breaking up Fresno's Redevelopment agency and redistributing its money has lots of questions about how the city billed the agency for part of the baseball stadium. Questions like this one posed by panel member Jeff Reid: "Was it treated as a potential impairment of the revenue stream and did the bond holders consent to that modification?"

With answers like this provided by Deputy City Attorney Doug Sloan: "The concept is the increment is converted to property tax to be distributed as shown, plus payment of all enforceable obligations."

The complex financial questions and answers are all over a $200 thousand a year payment the redevelopment agency makes to the city for the downtown baseball stadium. The oversight panel has the power to cancel deals like this.

But Larry Westerlund, who is a city council member and a member of the oversight panel is trying to protect the city's claim, explaining the deal was part of the complex bond deal financing the nearly $50 million facility. "It was the intent of the council it was the intent of the city at that time the money would go to pay those bonds."

At the end of this meeting the board decided they couldn't figure it out, and put off a decision until they have time to hire a lawyer, with public funds, to help them out. This is all part of an effort to sort out more than $150 million in redevelopment contracts. Fresno's Redevelopment Agency is among 400 statewide being dismantled under a new state law that re-directs that property tax money collected by the agencies to schools, cities, counties and other taxing districts.

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