The Salton Sea Authority is looking at what it would take to form an infrastructure finance district, a defined area where a portion of property tax would go to pay for improvements to public properties.
The authority is moving to look at implementing the finance district that would cover an area where a 5,000 acre development has been proposed. Travertine Point would be a little town and vacation destination that would be situated at the Riverside-Imperial County lines adjacent to the Salton Sea, including a resort area, cultural preserve and residential neighborhoods.
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The authority is not near the point where it spends $1 million on a contractor to set up a district, Ashley said. The board is just making it an easy thing to build up and move when the time is right.
The board approved looking at the option with a 5-0 vote, but it will not be only up to the authority to decide whether to create an infrastructure finance district.
If the authority decides to approve the district at a later date, the counties would have to also approve agreements to give some of their apportioned property tax to the district and then that decision would also have to go before voters, said Salton Sea Authority Legal Counsel Robert W. Hargreaves. That money that would go toward the finance district would have originally gone to the counties’ general fund.
It could total a good amount of money, said Paul Quill, project manager for Travertine Point.
The area currently has property valued at $5,000 to $10,000 an acre, he said. The development could shoot that value up to $1 million to $5 million an acre, so the small increment of property tax that would go toward Salton Sea restoration could become a significant amount of money.
The developers of the Travertine project have already put $100,000 toward forming the finance district because it believes in restoring the sea, Quill said.
Studying the finance district would allow the authority to move toward a funding option, said board member Patricia A. “Corky” Larson with the Coachella Valley Water District.
“I don’t want to limp through a bad economic time,” she said.
Riverside County Supervisor and authority board member John Benoit was more cautious about the development, which he said has not been approved yet.
The Salton Sea Authority is just studying the option of having a district now, and that finance district would have to go back before the authority for a vote to decide whether to start pushing for it.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-337-3441.
Here are three things that happened at Thursday’s Salton Sea Authority meeting
1 Dr. Timothy Krantz, director of the Salton Sea Database Program for the University of Redlands, presented the authority board with a conceptual Salton Sea plan that includes a levee to split the sea, a one-mile river around the south end and possibly renewable energy facilities to fund the restoration.
2 Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, D-Coachella, plans to meet with local residents and officials on Nov. 28 to talk over legislation that could link the state with the Salton Sea Authority.
3 The authority ratified a $1.5 million grant application that Riverside County submitted to go to fund the update and revision of a conceptual environmental impact report for the Salton Sea restoration.