Sonoma County to complete former redevelopment projects

Sonoma County supervisors were told Tuesday that they could have $24.4 million in property tax revenue available through mid-2017 to complete former county redevelopment projects and programs.

The amount would cover costs for the county's top four former redevelopment projects, including the Highway 12 street and sidewalks improvements north of Sonoma and the proposed residential and commercial complex on an abandoned shopping center in Santa Rosa's Roseland neighborhood.

Supervisors said the projections added a welcome bit of good news to an ongoing redevelopment fight with the state that had left the projects in limbo.

Supervisor Susan Gorin, who represents Sonoma Valley, called it a "light at the end of the tunnel" for the Highway 12 upgrades, begun in 2009.

"It looks like we might have a way forward to fund and complete that desperately needed infrastructure project," Gorin said.

About $11 million of the five-year funding will be available starting in July. The Board of Supervisors is set to make decisions on how to allocate the funds in budget hearings next month.

The money comes from two kinds of sources: cash from the former county and city redevelopment agencies that has been redistributed to local government entities under the February 2012 state dissolution of redevelopment; and current and future county tax receipts that previously had been diverted to redevelopment agencies.

Altogether, county government is set to get about $30 million over the next five years from the redistribution. About $24.4 million would flow to the General Fund and about $5.6 million would go to other county entities, including the Water Agency and a network of service areas.

The General Fund money is discretionary, meaning it could be tapped by the board for other purposes.

But on Tuesday, the board added to a policy set last year dedicating the former redevelopment dollars to completion of priority projects once overseen by its redevelopment agency.

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