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Deadline for state appeal on Hwy. 12 suit is Dec. 23

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The redevelopment clock is ticking for the state.

Back in August, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Eugene Balonon ruled in Sonoma County’s favor after the county sued the state over whether or not two former redevelopment projects –the Springs Highway 12 sidewalks and streetlights project and the Roseland shopping plaza in Santa Rosa – were enforceable obligations and could be funded with money from the former redevelopment agency.

Balonon filed the last of the paperwork around Oct. 17, meaning the state could then appeal the decision.

According to Steve Shupe, the county’s counsel working on the suit, the state has until Dec. 23 to file its appeal.

Shupe said he’s heard that the state has appealed other suits, arising out of the redevelopment agency debacle, that it lost.

“I suspect they will appeal this one as well,” he said.

And he said he hasn’t heard of any Court of Appeal decisions on dissolution issues that would affect the county’s case.

First District Supervisor Susan Gorin told the Springs Community Alliance Town Hall meeting last month that she expects the state to appeal the judge’s decision.

The state’s Department of Finance had disallowed the new contracts for the two projects on numerous occasions. The original contracts were voided when the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state in December 2011 and dissolved the more than 300 redevelopment agencies statewide. The county’s Successor Agency re-entered into the contracts according to the letter of the law, but the state thought otherwise and the county sued.

The county has a second suit pending against the state for the money involved in the two projects – somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.8 million. The state wants the money, the county wants the court to decide, and the ruling on the enforceable obligations adds to the county’s case for getting the money. But that suit won’t be heard until May 2014.

The county was a couple of months shy of putting the Highway 12 project out to bid in early 2012. But when the redevelopment agency was dissolved, the project went on the shelf where it collected dust for about 15 months.

But in May, the county’s board of supervisors decided to use the funds that would have gone to the redevelopment agencies to finish the two projects. And if it wins the suit against the state, it will use the cash on hand to pay back the county’s general fund.