Fremont Mayor Bob Wasserman is an old hat when it comes to local government. That's to say nothing seems to faze him, but he has become increasingly critical of the lawmakers in Sacramento for their perceived ineffectiveness and consistent grab of millions annually from local cities to duct-tape the state budget.
“I am extremely disappointed that California legislators last week passed an illegal State budget that essentially steals redevelopment funds in direct violation of the passing of Proposition 22 in November by California voters. This puts at risk the majority of Fremont’s future projects, most notably the Irvington BART Station as well as Fremont Boulevard improvements and streetscape enhancements, the Grimmer Boulevard greenbelt and creek restoration, quiet zone safety improvements to railroad crossings in various locations, and pedestrian sidewalk streetscape and sidewalk improvements in the historic districts.
Fremont is understandably worried over the axe hanging over the head of redevelopment agencies. Two expensive BART stations and a host of public improvement projects may be kept hostage by the continuing uncertainty of redevelopemnt. You may remember, Fremont was one of the first California cities to aggresively confront the state last January when it approved issuing $140 million in bonds to help secure funding for its projects--some shovel-ready, some not.
Much of the impetus over the quick move to issue bonds centered around Brown's initial call in January to dissolve the agencies by July 1. That deadline was subsequently downplayed leading to Fremont to temper its plan for the taxable bonds along with a tepid bond market showing signs of a glut stemming from numerous cities instituting the same plan to create a fall back plan for its projects.
Wasserman also charged leaders in Sacramento for being tone deaf to the worries of their constituents who continue to fret over the loss of jobs and stagnant incomes.
This budget eliminates local government’s best economic development tool at the precise moment when local governments can least afford to lose it and squanders more resources than it provides. By taking away a mechanism that creates valuable jobs and increases tax revenues—something Fremont desperately needs—the State Legislature has not listened to its constituents. Gov. Jerry Brown has the ability to do the right thing and veto AB 1X26 and AB 1X27. This action would help put California back on the road to economic recovery.