Funding shift up to supervisors' vote
S.B. County: Money set aside for a housing project will be decided by the board of supervisors.
08:26 AM PST on Monday, December 18, 2006
Nearly $1 million proposed for a housing program will be shifted from the San Bernardino County Economic Development Agency under a proposal up for a vote Tuesday.
After a review, the agency found funding for the housing program in Rialto should have been awarded through a more competitive process, said Brian McGowan, the agency's administrator.
Now at the request of First District Supervisor Bill Postmus' office, which identified the program for funding, the money would be moved back into the county's general fund, according to McGowan and county records.
Supervisors inserted the $975,000 into the agency's budget earlier this year as part of a larger effort to fund special community projects throughout the county, McGowan said.
It's unclear why Postmus, who takes office in January as the county's new assessor, wants the money moved, where it might be spent in the future or why the supervisor's office pushed funding for the housing project.
Postmus' chief of staff Brad Mitzelfelt did not return calls seeking comment last week.
The money would have gone toward a housing program in the Willow-Winchester area of Rialto coordinated by the Southern California Housing Development Corp., according to county records and officials.
The city and the nonprofit organization are investing nearly $40 million into the neighborhood to buy and rehabilitate 160 apartment units and build a community center.
On Oct. 31, the Board of Supervisors on its consent agenda shifted an additional $272,000 from various community projects to the economic development agency to supplement the more than $700,000 already set aside for the housing program, records show. Of that, $50,000 was shifted away from a nature center at Mojave Narrows Regional Park in Victorville.
Southern California Housing was founded by Jeff Burum, who serves as its co-chairman and chief executive officer, according to the company's Web site.
The organization uses low-interest loans and housing grants to revamp troubled properties and neighborhoods.
Burum also is the co-managing partner of developer Colonies Partners, which at the time was battling the county over flood-control easements.
The county on Nov. 28 agreed to pay Colonies $102 million to end the four-year legal battle.
Burum on Sunday could not be reached for comment.
McGowan said the economic development agency did not request the $975,000.
"We were just a place to write the check from," McGowan said. "It was just decided that it should be done on a more competitive basis."
Bob Page, chief of staff to Supervisor Josie Gonzales, whose district includes Rialto, said Postmus' office identified the
"It was a project idea they came up with," Page said. "If they wanted to spend money in the fifth district, we weren't going to stop them."
BS Ranch Perspective:
Wow, it seems that Rialto sure is spreading the wealth around for something that was their problem to begin with. They should have subdivided the property into .24 acre lots and sold them to developers to have homes built on them, they would have turned the money around that they spent a lot faster then passing the money on to the County, as some kind of Blight clean up, after all the city is spending a price tag of $40 Million, but they cannot afford a raise for their Police Department, and the basic Retirement plan that all the other Police Agencies have these days!! Over 97% of the Law Enforcement Agencies all have a Retirement that is 3% at 50 years of age! that would allow a Police Officer to retire at the age of 50 if he wanted to, since it is hard to chase these 15-30 year old kids, at the age of 50!
I understand that the city has to have a certain percentage that goes to the lower income families, but there are other ways to pay for it then to give away $40 Million in Tax money to get it done, Especially when that property was owned by people, that could have or might have fixed it up on their own, But I forgot those so called Apartments were actually Condo's and sold as such, even when they started as Apartments, they were changed to condo's when the land owners got to gather and saw the land changing to Gang style living, and sold it off to whom ever would purchase the property!