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Escondido, Schools Fund Suit Continues

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Superior Court judge reaffirmed Friday the denial of a preliminary motion that would have put a cap on the spending of redevelopment funds by the city of Escondido in a longstanding dispute between the city and the Escondido Union and Union High school districts.

Judge Terry O’Rourke’s decision means that the lawsuit, filed May 30 by the school districts, will continue, attorneys for both parties said.

At issue is when the elementary and high school districts will begin receiving part of the $450 million in tax-sharing redevelopment agency funds expected to be generated over the next 45 years.

School officials contend they should be receiving a portion of the funds now, and the city argues that it has the authority to decide when the funds are spent.

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Michael Owens, an attorney for the schools, said, “At this point in time, there’s a lot more to be done in the case, and there’s a lot more to be determined,” adding that the districts do not consider the ruling a defeat.

Aleta Bryant, an attorney for the city, said the judge overwhelmingly agreed with the city’s stance in denying the temporary injunction.

The school districts claim the city misappropriated $1 million in redevelopment funds this year to help pay for the city’s planned cultural center.

The $63.7-million center is scheduled to open in the spring of 1993.

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The city maintains it has first claim to the redevelopment funds.

Representatives from the city and the schools will meet Aug. 15 in an attempt to resolve the issue without further litigation.

“We’re hopeful to meet together, to meet amicably to resolve this,” said Gene Hartline, assistant superintendent for Escondido Union.

The school districts, with about 20,000 elementary and high school students, are scheduled to begin receiving redevelopment agency funds in 1992.

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No trial date has been set for the case.

The same judge originally denied the motion in July.


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