County to sue state for Hwy. 12
Sonoma County will file suit against the state to force it to release redevelopment funds needed to finish the Highway 12 project and the Roseland shopping center in Santa Rosa.
The Board of Supervisors approved filing the suit Tuesday.
First District Supervisor Valerie Brown said the supervisors unanimously agreed to move forward with the suit.
“Nothing has been filed and I have no idea when it might be,” Brown said Wednesday.
The Supervisors had been considering filing a suit to recover the funds – $9.5 million for Phase 2 of Highway 12, and $6.6 million for Roseland Village – since the state rejected the county’s third appeal. Brown said the supervisors decided to move after receiving the state’s last letter from the state on Oct. 15, denying the funding, along with a letter dated Oct. 3, that told the county it can’t use redevelopment legal fees anymore.
“Since the state froze our (redevelopment) legal fees, the county will have to bear the cost of the suit,” Brown added.
Three times the county has submitted the Highway 12 project and the Roseland project to the state’s Department of Finance as part of its recognized obligation payment schedule (ROPS), and three times the Department of Finance has denied the county the funds to complete the projects.
The county has had to submit the ROPS as part of the breakup of the county’s redevelopment agency after a state Supreme Court decision back in December.
“This is a state highway,” Brown said. “And we’re trying to help the state by doing this project.”
Steven Shupe, the county Oversight Board’s counsel, said he expects the suit to be filed sometime in the next two-to-three weeks in Sacramento.
He said the county may seek some sort of preliminary relief from the Department of Finance.
The suit will cover not only Highway 12 and Roseland, but other claims as well. But the primary purpose of the suit is to force the state on the Highway 12 and Roseland projects.
“We want the state to recognize the agreements and allow us to use the redevelopment money for those projects,” he said.
County officials have had two face-to-face meetings with DOF officials to plead their case – to no avail. The county has a conference call set up with DOF officials again this coming Monday, Oct. 29, to yet again plead their case for the two projects and the administrative expenses the DOF has disallowed.
The state contends that all contracts between two county entities are null-and-void even though the legislation apparently allowed the county Oversight Board the authority to re-enter into contracts. But the DOF is contending that the null-and-void is permanent and that the Oversight Board can’t re-enter into contracts with other county entities.
“We think they (the DOF) are reading the legislation the wrong way,” said John Haig, the county’s redevelopment manager. “We’re doing the best we can and we’re going to continue to push the issues.”