During the boom years, Victorville had high ambitions to become a leader in emerging renewable energy resources. They spent big, but when the plans flopped, they were left ill positioned for the upcoming recession.

A recently published Grand Jury report documents the rise and fall of the Victorville economic development plans, and even calls into question the legality of some of the inter-agency borrowing and spending. For instance, $69 million of borrowed money helped keep Victorville afloat during the lean years. Some of the money came from the city’s sanitation fund. Other money came from a bond assigned to airport purposes. The SEC ended up launching an investigation.

For all the time and money put into the development of various industries in the desert community, the city has little to show. A plan to sell part of a retired air force base to G.E. fell through, resulting in a $50 million settlement paid to the company. The city also spent $76 million to jump start a solar electric plant, but that has yet to break ground.

Despite the challenges, however, the city has been able to return balance to its budgets, passing a stable, reserve-free budget this year for the first time since 2009.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Victorville hoped to strike it rich with a new hybrid gas and solar power plant near the old George Air Force Base, buying up homesteads for the site amid the High Desert’s real estate boom.

The city shelled out $375,000 alone to Chris Massey and his family in 2007 to buy a tiny house plopped on five desolate acres of scrub and Joshua trees — 10 times the property’s assessed value.

Read the full article here.