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Redevelopment Agency Balks at Helping Schools

October 17, 1985|LARRY GORDON | Times Staff Writer

The Glendale Unified School District's request for $1.48 million in aid from the city Redevelopment Agency to repair school buildings and playgrounds has run into opposition.

Two of the five City Council members who make up the agency said Tuesday that they oppose giving the school system any money because the agency may need the cash.

Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg and Mayor Jerold Milner said they are concerned that Congress may approve a Reagan Administration proposal that would eliminate the use of tax increment bonds--a major financing tool for such proposed redevelopment projects as a downtown hotel and a retail-office complex.

"There is no question in my mind that they need help," Bremberg said of school officials. "But we may need help, too." Without enough revenues, she said, the entire redevelopment effort "could come to a halt."

Supports Aid for 1 Year

Councilman John Day said he would support school aid for certain emergency projects for one year, not the three years requested by the Board of Education, and then would want to review further financing of schools next year.

However, Councilmen Larry Zarian and Carl Raggio said they support the full aid application.

"Schools have as much meaningfulness to the city as a hotel," said Raggio, who was school board president before being elected to the council in April.

Because of the divided opinion, City Manager James Rez, who is also executive director of the agency, was instructed to meet with school officials to come up with a more detailed list of school repair priorities.

Rez also is to report back with more information about the costs of proposed redevelopment projects, such as a hotel and a parking garage behind Brand Boulevard.

A vote on the funding request will be taken later.

The agency has about $3.9 million in unallocated reserves and receives about $3.7 million a year in taxes, officials say. However, they say, if its ability to sell bonds is curtailed, those funds would be woefully inadequate to carry out their plans. Construction of a parking garage could cost $7 million and acquisition of land for a hotel might cost $10 million, they said.

'Not Against Schools'

"A lot of things can happen in the next year," Rez said in an interview. "It's not that I'm against the schools. I think the record shows that we've been very cooperative with the schools, very understanding of their funding problems.

"But I don't want us to get in a funding problem. We're not in one now. But there are some things on the horizon that could very seriously change that, not the least of which is our ability to sell tax increment bonding."

In a memo to council members last week, Rez stressed that the Redevelopment Agency gave the school district $1.3 million over the past three years for such projects as repairing the swimming pool at Crescenta Valley High School, reroofing the main building at Woodrow Wilson Junior High and building a lunch shelter at John Muir Elementary.

The council also allocated $2.4 million in federal Community Development block grant funds for other school construction jobs.

Rez recommended that any redevelopment aid to the schools be limited to one year. By then, he said, Congress may reach some decision on federal tax reform.

'Would Enhance the City'

Sharon Beauchamp, school board president, told the Redevelopment Agency Tuesday that she appreciated the past grants and would appreciate any future funds. 'We feel that what we propose would enhance the city as well as the school district," she said.

Among the projects proposed are replacing roofs at Glenoaks and Dunsmore schools and at the science building at Crescenta Valley High School, replacing asphalt at eight school playgrounds, improving science labs throughout the district and removing asbestos hazards at several schools.

Bremberg asked Wayland Parsons, assistant superintendent of schools, why the district could not use forthcoming funds from the new state lottery for those projects. Parsons said that Glendale schools might receive as much as $1 million from the lottery this year but that most of it was already spoken for.

Last month, the district voted to reinstate the sixth period for seventh- and eighth-grade students; those classes were eliminated in 1980 in the wake of the passage of Proposition 13, which greatly reduced property-tax revenues.

The classes were reinstated by postponing purchase of about $600,000 in such needed equipment as typewriters and lawn mowers. Money from the lottery is to be used to help buy that equipment, Parsons said.

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