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City cannot recover loans to former redevelopment agency, officials find

The state Department of Finance has rejected as invalid an $8.1 million debt that Santa Rosa claimed was owed to it by its former redevelopment agency.

The decision, which was received by city officials Friday and was not unexpected, means the city is unlikely to receive those funds as it once expected.

City and county redevelopment agencies were ordered dissolved by Feb. 1 as a part of Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to use the revenues to plug the state budget gap.

Former redevelopment agencies across the state have been learning in recent weeks just how much money the state will let them keep to continue paying existing projects and programs, and how much must be diverted back to underlying taxing entities, such as school districts.

Last month Sonoma County learned that plans to transform a Roseland shopping center into a commercial and residential complex and to complete pedestrian upgrades to Highway 12 north of Sonoma were "unenforceable" obligations.

Three Santa Rosa projects suffered the same fate.

The largest is two loans the city made as seed money to get two redevelopment project areas started. The total value of the unpaid principal balance and future interest payments for the two loans amounts to $7.6 million.

The state deemed the loans invalid because they were made more than two years after the formation of the agency, which was created in the late 1950s.

Also rejected was $406,471 earmarked for the city's economic development programs. That got the thumbs down because it is a funding agreement between the redevelopment agency and the entity that created the agency, the City of Santa Rosa.

State guidelines for the winding down of redevelopment agencies have stated that only debts that are "enforceable," such as required payments to bond holders, will continue receiving funding.

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