Revenue may not cover debt payments for SCLA

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Oct. 13--VICTORVILLE

--The city may not collect enough tax revenue to cover its debt payments for Southern California Logistics Airport this year.

That means Mayor Pro Tem Mike Rothschild's controversial proposal to help Victorville gain more control over pooled tax revenue would be "hollow" for another six years or so, City Manager Jim Cox said, since there's no excess money to fight for.

"We're hoping it will break even," Cox said, as they wait on property tax projections.

The city owes $21.5 million in annual debt service on 10 bonds for SCLA that date back to 2005.

Last year, after the state raided local redevelopment agencies, the city was only able to pay for those bonds through a $5 million loan from a restricted fund. And this year assessed property values -- and therefore tax revenues -- are projected to drop even further.

B u t i n Au g u s t , Rothschild ruffled feathers by asking to alter a decade-old agreement between all local cities for how tax revenues generated in a 16-squaremile redevelopment area surrounding SCLA are spent.

Apple Valley, Adelanto, Hesperia, Victorville and San Bernardino County each have a seat on the board for the Victor Valley Economic Development Authority, created in 1993 to redevelop the area affected by the closure of George Air Force Base. The group agreed then to let Victorville take charge of SCLA and bond for improvements there, and Victorville committed to dedicate 100 percent of the tax increment generated in its VVEDA project area back to the airport.

Wi t h Ro t h s c h i l d pushing to undo that p l e d ge, 1 s t D i s t r i c t C o u n ty S u p e r v i s o r Brad Mitzelfelt warned VVEDA could seek to take control of SCLA.

P u b l i c d i s c u s s i o n over that proposal has b e e n d e l aye d tw i ce b e c a u s e Vi c t o r v i l l e didn't have a full City Council. Now it's postponed until November, after Councilman Terry Caldwell said he needed more time to review the issue.

"Tonight in my in-basket is a series of documents that specifically relate to this," Caldwell said when the item came up on the Oct. 5 City Council agenda. "...I don't know how long it's going to take me to get through this stuff. I would suggest that we put it on the November agenda."

When the Daily Press requested a copy of the documents Caldwell was referring to, the city provided a 97-page report -- all of which related to an entirely different item on the agenda.

Caldwell didn't return a call for comment on the issue. But Cox said he also gave the council a brief memo last week, which contains a few paragraphs related to Rothschild's proposal. The city manager said that memo is confidential because it relates to ongoing investigations and potential litigation.

Though Rothschild's proposal may be a moot point, the City Council is now scheduled to discuss the issue at its first meeting in November.

Brooke Edwards may be reached

at (760) 955-5358 or at bedwards@VVDailyPress.com.

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