By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Cloverdale is joining a growing group of cities closed for business on Fridays.
The Friday closures of Cloverdale City Hall will begin March 2, following City Council approval last week of the money-saving move to offset the latest dip in general fund revenues.
“To some people it’s a radical change. Apparently, to a lot of cities in the county it’s not unusual. There’s more that do it than don’t,” said Mayor Bob Cox.
In Sonoma County, four cities close their City Hall every Friday: Cotati, Petaluma, Sebastopol and Windsor. Santa Rosa is closed every other Friday.
“We don’t have a lot going on on Fridays. I don’t see it will be a big change,” Cox said.
He said employees will have the option to work five days a week, including when City Hall is closed, or work four, 10-hour days.
The City Council also approved other reductions, including eliminating an accounting assistant and a part-time redevelopment and housing manager. Two positions, assistant planner and an administrative assistant, will have their duties broadened.
City officials blame the Friday shuttering and other reductions largely on a $100,000 hit the $5.2 million general fund is taking as a result of the state Supreme Court ruling that eliminated redevelopment agencies.
The court decision last month upheld the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown’s move to do away with California’s 400local redevelopment agencies.
Cloverdale’s general fund, which pays for most city services and wages, collects about $100,000 annually in interest from money it loans the redevelopment agency.
The agency has funded a number of improvements, such as the downtown boulevard redesign, new fire station, and the history and performing arts centers.
Most of the funding has come from the sale of bonds that are repaid with “tax increment” revenues derived from increased property values brought about by redevelopment.
The city’s general fund lent the agency operating funds each year pending receipt of the agency’s annual tax increment payment . The agency in turn paid the general fund interest on the loan, according to City Manager Nina Regor.
“The redevelopment agency doesn’t get their money right up front. The city would lend money to the agency to do these projects,” is how Cox explained it.
City officials were unable to provide a figure on how much was lent to the redevelopment agency annually. City officials said the city lends as much as $750,000 to $950,000 a year from its general fund to the redevelopment agency for operations and debt service.
Cloverdale has been making cuts the past few years to adjust to drops in general fund revenues, particularly property taxes.
The number of employees has been trimmed by 23 percent, going from 52 employees five years ago, to 40 this year.