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City forgives 8 business loans
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Action was taken last week to forgive taxpayer-funded loan balances that were owed by eight area businesses. It was yet another act of housecleaning since the state seized funds from the Ceres Rede- velopment Agency and the Stanislaus- Ceres Redevelopment Commission.

Under the prompting of Gov. Jerry Brown, state lawmakers abolished all redevelopment agencies in California to raid their funds to help lessen the state's whopping budget deficit. Follow-up legislation allowed the CRA and SCRC to become "successor agencies" to oversee

the wind-down of the redevelopment process, including overseeing payments for previously approved contracts. In some cases, successor agencies were allowed to keep paying bills and retain some assets that otherwise would default to the state.

On Monday, Sept. 10, the Ceres City Council met as the board of both suc- cessor agencies to formally forgive loan balances owed by the eight firms. The businesses previously received redevel- opment assistance to improve their busi- nesses. Finance Director Sheila Cum- berland pointed out that the clean-up action was a formality since the agencies outlined during the loan process that debts would be forgiven after a decade

if certain conditions were met. The Sept. 10 action allows the debts to be removed from the agencies' balance sheets so the state will not try to collect them.

The program allowed for the forgive- ness of any outstanding debt after 10 years if certain covenants were met. Those included keeping the business in Ceres and hiring more employees.

When asked by resident Leonard Shepherd how the city benefitted from making loans which it was now forgiv- ing, Cumberland explained, "we got job creation and it's generated sales tax."