Mission Viejo diverts roughly $15 million in "tax increment" property taxes

For an outsider Item #11 on the Sept 4th Mission Viejo city council meeting Agenda appears to be a routine administrative action that we should not concern ourselves over. That is why it was placed on the “routine consent calendar” where the members attempt to vote on a multitude of issues that should be conflict free.
Prior to that vote Mayor Pro-Tem John Paul Ledesma expressed his opposition at which time the council voted approval.

Our fiscal conservative city council majority just stole roughly $15 million dollars in tax increment. Larry, what are talking about? How did they do this?
Let’s start with the city Agenda text which reads:

Ordinance extending the Time Limit Of The Effectiveness Of The Community Development Plan For The Mission Viejo Community Development Project Area; Extending The Time Limit For Payment Of Indebtedness And Receipt Of Property taxes Under The Community Development Plan For The Community Development Project Area; And Making Other Findings In Connection Therewith.” Mumbo jumbo.

In simple English my city council just extended the deadline for shutting down our redevelopment agency collection period of the tax increment in the project area.
Using a straight line two percent per year property tax assessment increase, that one year extension is equivalent to $15 million that would otherwise go to meet county and other agency operations. That money cannot be used for our general fund. It “cannot be used to pay for salaries public safety or maintenance, which are by far the largest share of municipal budgets.” The Unknown Government.
Forget that it goes into effect in the future. However, this under the radar vote clearly points out that our council majority will do whatever it takes to rob these funds from much needed services.Our statewide Bonded Indebtedness is over $81 billion dollars. We need to pay off those Bonds. For a more in-depth analysis of property tax diversion simply get your hands on Supervisor Chris Norby’s book entitled: “Redevelopment: The Unknown Government.”
If Mission Viejo, alone, will take $15 million, collectively, how much will the other cities in Orange County take from our county coffers using the same powers made possible by SB 1045. Many in our city will argue that we are a “donor city” in a donor county and if we can do, why not. Forget morality and need. Replace it with greed.

I commend John Paul Ledesma for his 10 year support of redevelopment reform and seeing through this back door diversion along with his vote in opposition.

Larry Gilbert, Orange County Co-Director, CURE

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