Friday, November 16 , 2018, 10:50 am | Fair 67º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara School District, City Not Likely to Gain Revenue from Dissolution of RDA

Officials say during a joint meeting that, in a tough economy, increased bed- and sales-tax income are a bright spot

Neither the City of Santa Barbara nor the Santa Barbara Unified School District is expecting much revenue from the dissolution of the city’s Redevelopment Agency, officials said at a joint meeting Friday afternoon.

While the city can absorb most of its RDA staff and projects into other departments, it will miss the millions of dollars in annual revenues and could lose some of the money saved up for future capital projects, according to community development director Paul Casey.

That money will be redistributed to taxing agencies, which sounds good for the school district, but the state of California will just provide less to compensate for no net gain, said Meg Jette, the district’s associate superintendent of business services.

City Council members said they were stunned at the convoluted way the district has to plan its budget without knowing how much the state will be providing each year, and deliver pink slips to hundreds of employees every March.

“It really upsets a lot of peoples’ lives,” Jette said. “It’s really devastating that the state does this.”

Millions of dollars every year are also deferred, so the district must borrow money to keep up with month-to-month cash needs until the payments come in.

“City finance sounds pretty simple compared to what you guys go through,” Councilman Randy Rowse remarked.

The city can relate, since it’s unclear how much it will keep of the programs and future projects funded by the RDA. The restorative policing program and downtown waterfront shuttle were funded by the RDA, and millions of dollars were saved to move the 9-1-1 call center to a seismically safe building and build a new police station, Casey said.

Both the city and school district pointed to local revenues as their saving grace. Transient occupancy tax — or bed tax — and sales tax revenues are finally showing big growth, with a 14.9 percent increase in bed tax in March compared with 2011. Meanwhile, the school district’s parcel tax Measures H and I, approved by voters in 2008, have saved music teachers and many math teachers from getting pink slips this year, according to Superintendent Dave Cash.

The general obligation bond measures passed by voters in 2010 have funded wireless Internet infrastructure in every junior high and high school and countless other capital improvement projects.

Many district programs could be back on the chopping block once the parcel taxes expire, so extension Measures W and X will be on the June 5 ballot. The Santa Barbara Education Foundation is handling the campaign to extend the measures, which will fund music, art, foreign language, math, science and trade programs.

Fundraising and advertising have to be done earlier because of how many voters vote absentee, with those ballots mailed out the first week of May, foundation executive director Margie Yahyavi said.

Click here to read the City of Santa Barbara’s recommended budget. Click here to read the latest on the school district’s budget for 2012-2013.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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