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Staff Writer

CHICO — Less money for Chico road improvements, city staff and low-income housing will result from the governor signing bills today that would eliminate or drastically cut redevelopment agencies.

“Redevelopment for this community is really important,” said Dave Burkland, Chico city manager. “It”s the one mechanism we have in place to do critical infrastructure projects for new development and economic development.”

The statewide cut would save California $1.7 billion by eliminating about 400 community redevelopment agencies and requiring them to make contributions to local schools if they want to continue to operate.

One signed redevelopment bill eliminates the agencies entirely come Oct. 1, Burkland said. The other bill requires the Chico agency to give $10.7 million to Butte County schools, backfilling education money the state had not dispersed. Each following year, the city would have to give another $2.5 million to the schools.

Burkland did not want to see either bill passed, he said.

“The second bill at least provides us an opportunity to wind down redevelopment while we look for other ways to provide its important services,” he said.

Much of the Chico redevelopment agency”s money has already been committed to projects, which would still receive funding under the bills, Burkland said. However, some of the city”s money is unallocated. Housing set-aside funding might also be available for the transfer.

City staff worked on a list Wednesday of the projects that could be delayed, which will be presented to the City Council along with alternatives in August or September, Burkland said.

On a separate reduction, Burkland thinks the higher education cutbacks could limit enrollment and increase tuition, leading to fewer students spending less money in Chico.

In a positive change, the state budget does not eliminate two items the city had planned to fund through its general fund, Burkland said.

The State COPS grant will continue to pay for one Chico police officer and the city will not be responsible for booking fees. Chico will save about $160,000.

“That”s a bullet we dodged, essentially,” Burkland said.

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