Sunday, December 15, 2013

Desert Hills Premium Outlets sales tax could help fund public safety

BY GAIL WESSON STAFF WRITER November 24, 2013; 05:47 PM

Loss of redevelopment revenue and Indian gaming impact funding is prompting the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to consider diverting future sales tax dollars to help pay for public safety needs tied to the expansion of the Cabazon factory outlets.

Supervisors will consider setting up the Cabazon Community Revitalization Act infrastructure and public safety fund for a 20-year period during the board’s meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26, in Riverside.

Without the special funding, the expenses would come out of the county’s general fund, which pays for day-to-day operating expenses.

The proposal to direct 25 percent of sales tax generated from the expansion is supported by 5th District Supervisor Marion Ashley, who represents the Cabazon area, and 4th District Supervisor John Benoit, who represents the nearby desert area.

Completion of the $100 million expansion at Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon is expected in the spring, a spokeswoman for owner Simon Property Group of Indianapolis said recently.
The project will add about 147,000 square feet of retail space to the center. A four-story parking garage recently opened.

The outlets opened in 1990 near Morongo Casino Resort and Spa off Seminole Drive. The addition will bring the complex to about 658,000 square feet, with more than180 stores and 2,500 parking spaces, according to a memo from Cabazon sheriff’s station Capt. Robert Peebles.

In the memo, Peebles estimated the outlets attract more than 40,000 shoppers a day on holiday weekends such as Thanksgiving. Peebles wrote that more law enforcement presence will be needed to ensure the destination “remains a safe retail environment” with expansion.

He is recommending that a full-time deputy be assigned as a crime-prevention and liaison officer and additional patrols. The estimated cost is $190,000 for fiscal year 2014-15.

Some of the sales tax revenue would go toward traffic projects included in the Interstate 10 “Lifeline” Emergency Action Plan adopted by the county and other local governments last year. The lifeline plan proposes bypass roads and electronic message signs to advise motorists about freeway closures on nearby I-10, where alternate detours are lacking.

Officials estimate that $690,259 in new revenue could be diverted for the special public safety and infrastructure fund, according to the memo from Ashley and Benoit.

The Indian gaming impact funds last allocated in 2010-11 provided an average $576,393 over the previous six fiscal years, according to the memo. Cabazon would have generated almost $462,930 in 2012-13 and $534,334 in 2013-14 in redevelopment tax increment dollars if the program still existed.

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