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Committee Appointed To Dissolve RDA
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When the state abolished all its redevelopment agencies on Feb. 1, Riverbank alone of Stanislaus County cities chose not to become a successor agency, so Governor Jerry Brown has appointed a governing board that will direct the winding down of the former Riverbank agency.

Covering most of the city's eastern region, the RDA has been responsible for financing development such as the downtown revitalization project, the apartment complex opposite the high school and purchase of the Del Rio Theater.

The new governing board, also known as a designated local authority, consists of three county residents. They are Wendell Naraghi, 69, of Denair named as committee chairman; Paul Baxter, 67, of Modesto and Walter Schmidt, 65, of Hughson.

Their work will include: paying existing bond debt and following through on pre-existing contractual obligations, maintaining reserves, enforcing former redevelopment agency rights to protect and benefit bondholders, disposing of former redevelopment agency assets, managing properties until contracted work has been completed and preparing an administrative budget and obligations payment schedule.

Appointees will work closely with former redevelopment agency staff to accomplish these tasks. They will be overseen by a seven-member Oversight Board consisting of representatives of the taxing agencies in whose boundaries the redevelopment agencies were located.

Of the three appointees, Baxter was a consultant for Stanislaus County Capital Projects from 2002 to 2007. He was the interim clerk recorder for Stanislaus County from 2001 to 2002 and deputy city manager for the City of Modesto from 1989 to 2000.

Naraghi has been the owner of Wendell Naraghi Farms since 2006 and the owner of the Naraghi Group since 2000. He was manager of H. Naraghi Farms, a family-run farm and real estate company, from 1967 to 2006, served on the California State Food and Agriculture Board and received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Schmidt has been a partner at Crabtree Schmidt since 1971. He received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

Funds for the RDA derived from property tax increments had fallen so low during the recent recession that officials were concerned the agency would not be able to make its annual bond payments amounting to about $1 million per year.

But Riverbank Finance Director Marisela Hernandez confirmed the bond payments for this year have been made, one in August and another this month, out of bond reserves.

The state, however, will be reviewing the legality of all transfers of property made out of RDA between January of 2007 and June of 2011. That includes the transfer of the Del Rio Theater to city ownership made in March of last year. The agency paid $1.7 million for the theater with the idea of converting it to a performing arts center. But it was later found to be structurally unsound and has stood unused for several years.

Interim City Manager Pam Carder said the RDA no longer exists but city officials will continue to cooperate with the committee in transferring responsibilities.