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Council Holds Off On Redevelopment
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With passage of a state budget that could see the abolishment of redevelopment agencies throughout California, Escalon City Manager Henry Hesling is glad the city held off forming one at this time.

Several months ago, Hesling said, he went to the council to ask for a feasibility study on forming a redevelopment agency for the city.

"The study showed we should move forward," Hesling said, noting that redevelopment agencies can help bring in needed cash for business development, retention and expansion as well as beautification efforts.

Consultant Urban Futures of Tustin did the feasibility study and has a presentation prepared for the council.

"But then everything hit the fence," Hesling said of the economy de-stabilizing and the state looking to take additional money from municipalities to help balance its own budget. "I recommended that we not move forward with spending money now to form an agency."

The uncertainty of existing redevelopment agencies' fates is a good reason to delay, Hesling said, but he will keep his eye on the issue.

"The consultant will come back and make a presentation to the council later," he said. "If they (the state) want to remodel the agencies instead of kill them, I'm for that. But why form one if they're never going to let them come back?"

Hesling said there are still many pieces of the state budget that are in flux and the best course of action for the city is just to stand pat with the plan they enacted in June.

The city began the fiscal year on Friday, July 1 with a $3.14 million spending plan in place. Hesling said they will be monitoring the finances very closely, and conduct monthly checks in addition to a more in depth mid-year review to see where the city stands.

The budget came in with an estimated $2.84 million in revenues and maintains a healthy reserve, which officials hope to not have to tap into to get through the year. Council members did approve using roughly $200,000 of the reserve to balance the spending plan adopted in early June. The vote was 5-0 in favor of passing the budget.

"We're still maintaining 33 percent of the operational budget in reserve," said Hesling.