State government

Wolk’s infrastructure bill clears state Senate

The California Senate voted Monday to provide local governments with a tool to finance clean-water projects and other desperately needed infrastructure in disadvantaged, unincorporated communities. The bill passed on a 22-13 vote and now moves to Gov. Jerry Brown for his consideration.

“SB 614 helps ensure that local planning responds to the unmet needs of California’s poorest communities, which are frequently left out of local planning,” said state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, the bill’s author.

“An estimated 1 million people live in hundreds of disadvantaged, unincorporated communities throughout the state. These Californians lack basic necessities, such as clean drinking water, sewage lines and other critical infrastructure. SB 614 provides local governments with an important tool to address this lack of investment, which threatens residents’ health and safety and fosters economic, social and education inequality.”

In 2011, legislation authored by Wolk (SB 244) required cities and counties to identify and include disadvantaged unincorporated communities in their long-range planning, including plans to annex these communities. In order to annex an area, local governments must develop a plan for providing services in the affected area that includes a description of how services will be financed.

Unfortunately, local governments currently lack the financial tools to fund necessary infrastructure projects in these annexed communities, Wolk said.

SB 614 enables local governments to dedicate some or all of the growth of property taxes within the annexed area for a fixed period of time to finance infrastructure improvements in that area. This financing tool can be used to improve or upgrade structures, roads, sewer or water facilities, or other infrastructure to serve the community.

Use of this financing tool requires the consent of all affected local governments, and residents also have the opportunity to disapprove of the proposal by submitting protests to the Local Agency Formation Commission. SB 614 will expire after 10 years.

“This measure provides a means to finance the necessary improvements to enhance the living conditions within a disadvantaged unincorporated community,” said Dan Carrigg with the California League of Cities, which supports the measure.

The bill’s other supporters include the California Association of Local Agency Formation Commissions and California Special Districts Association.

Special to The Enterprise

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