GT Files $123K Tax Claim With The County

The city of Grand Terrace is seeking a refund of $123,026.46 in property tax administration fees from the county of San Bernardino.
Grand Terrace City Attorney  Richard Adams on December 13, 2012 filed a claim with the clerk of the county board of supervisors for a refund of tax payments dated December 7. In that filing, Adams indicated the money sought did not pertain to any specific parcel.
On January 8, the board of supervisors referred the claim to the office of county counsel for investigation and a follow-up report.
Grand Terrace City Manager Betsy Adams told the Sentinel the claim was “based upon a recent court decision, Alhambra vs. the county of Los Angeles, which has to do with property tax. Based upon that court decision, the city has filed a claim for property tax funds that we feel the county has withheld that are now due to Grand Terrace.”
At issue in the claim are the changing methods by which the state previously shifted tax revenue from counties and cities to fund education and bond repayments and subsequently rerouted money to those cities and counties from other sources. Several counties, including San Bernardino, charge cities for assessing, collecting and distributing property tax revenue. In creating an education revenue augmentation fund in the early 1990s, the state mandated that tax revenues going into that fund not be assessed an administration fee. The fund shifted part of the property tax revenue counties collected and deposited it into the fund to ensure a guaranteed minimum funding contribution  for schools.
When the state implemented two more budget-shifting and backfilling measures, it reduced  revenue going to the fund, and counties started levying the administration fee on that part of the money again. Most county’s recalculated costs to their cities using the same administrative cost formula and cities which saw contribution  increase in property tax revenue saw their costs increase.
Several cities, including Alhambra, contested that move. An earlier decision in Los Angeles Superior Court favored the county in that litigation, but two subsequent rulings, one at the appellate level and a final one by the California Supreme Court in November, favored the city.
It is upon the basis of that outcome that cash-strapped Grand Terrace has filed a claim with the county for the return of the money.

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