<b>BIG BUCKS:</b> Goleta City Attorney Tim Giles is fighting Sacramento more than $18 million in withheld funds.
Paul Wellman

Sacramento cast a wide net over California in 2011 by ending redevelopment agencies statewide, so the City of Goleta now finds itself as one of more than 70 other jurisdictions with no other option than fighting the state in court over the unforeseen fallout. Despite a trip to the capitol last month to explain the city’s $18.5 million in disputed funds to finance officials ​— ​who did wipe $500,000 off the tab due to a bookkeeping error ​— ​the state last week upheld the demand for $18 million related to the San Jose Creek restoration project, which the city maintains was contracted and paid for far before the redevelopment ax fell.

“They’ve given us a statement that they would not start withholding our tax revenues until July 1, so we would anticipate a filing prior to that,” said City Attorney Tim Giles, who expects it to be one of the 70-plus cases already on the docket against the Department of Finance in Sacramento County Superior Court. “The court is pretty much gridlocked with those,” he explained, noting that other cases may be resolved before Goleta’s and potentially streamline their case.

Like other city officials across the state, Giles sees the whole situation as a result of hasty moves to fix budget woes without analyzing the on-the-ground impacts. “It’s disappointing that the Legislature’s intention of gaining additional revenues for the state is going to be lost because the legislation was done without input and consultation from all the players with a view toward what’s legal and what’s clear,” said Giles. “It’s going to result in so much of that savings not being enjoyed by the local entities or the state.”

“I was an advocate for the phasing out of redevelopment agencies, but at the same time I am willing to go to bat for cities on projects that make good community sense,” said Assemblymember Das Williams. “I support the project and believe that it is important for both environmental and environmental-justice reasons.” Asked whether he was confident of his position heading into a lawsuit, Giles replied in the affirmative, and then laughed, “Does anybody ever say no?”


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