The Monrovia City Council will meet in a special session Tuesday to shield about $40 million from the state before a vote in the legislature later this week likely kills redevelopment agencies in California, a city official said Monday.
The council will convene at 4 p.m. Tuesday to transfer millions of dollars worth of property from the Monrovia Redevelopment Agency to the city in a move designed to shield the assets from the state. City Manager Scott Ochoa said it appears that the California legislature will vote to abolish redevelopment agencies on either Wednesday or Thursday.
"We might as well take every step possible to galvanize the city of Monrovia's interests," Ochoa said. "We will try to cram as much of that property into this document as we possibly and reasonably and ethically can."
Ochoa has staunchly opposed and transfer their assets to the state to help close its $25 billion budget deficit.
The plan made up of local and county officials. The county would have a voting majority on the committee, according to Ochoa.
The city's move comes as State Controller Jack Chiang released a report Monday concluding that redevelopment agencies around the state have been misusing funds. The report determined that Monrovia's agency was one of five redevelopment agencies that failed to properly pay into a state educational fund, resulting in the state losing out on $33.6 million in education funding.
The report, which studied 18 redevelopment agencies around the state in depth, found that every agency it looked at failed to meet all of its financial report filing requirements.
"The lack of accountability and transparency is a breeding ground for waste, abuse, and impropriety,” said Chiang in a written statement. “In whatever form local redevelopment takes in the future, the level of oversight and openness must be consistent with the amount of public dollars entrusted to their care.”
John Shirey, executive director of the California Redevelopment Association (CRA), called Chiang's report "a politically-motivated campaign piece to support those who want to abolish redevelopment" in his own prepared statement.
"The Controller has cherry-picked a few problems in reporting to draw broad conclusions about redevelopment that are not supported if one looks at the whole picture of redevelopment statewide," Shirey's statement reads.
Monrovia's redevelopment agency began the process of selling land to the city last week, authorizing the transfer of a vacant lot on Huntington Drive and Myrtle Avenue that would give the city enough money to make a $2.5 million payment to the fund mentioned in Chiang's report.
Ochoa said he anticipates a litany of litigation if the state takes the action he expects later this week. The CRA and the California League of Cities will almost certainly sue if legislators vote to eliminate redevelopment agencies, Ochoa said.
"I think you're going to have an anthill of lawsuits from agencies up and down the state and Monrovia may well be one of them," he said.
And because cities around the state have shielded money in the same manner Monrovia plans to continue on Tuesday, Ochoa questioned why the state would move forward with eliminating redevelopment agencies when the point was to take their money to close the budget deficit.
"You had to presume that the agencies are going to do what the agencies have done," Ochoa said. "And so what do you have at the end of all this?"