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County to File Claim Over State Mandate on Taxes

Ventura County is joining a handful of other counties that are filing claims against the Legislature over a new program they say the state is requiring without providing money to pay for it.

The action, announced Tuesday after a closed-door session by county supervisors, centers on a state budget strategy enacted in 1992 that sent millions of dollars in county property tax proceeds to schools to offset cuts to education.

The county’s $47.7-million claim will be filed by the end of the month with the state Commission on State Mandates, County Counsel James L. McBride said.

The panel is made up of statewide elected officials and appointees of Gov. Pete Wilson. It is charged with deciding whether local government should be reimbursed when legislation mandates services without providing money to pay for them.

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If their claims are rejected, the counties are free to file lawsuits.

Similar claims have been filed by Sonoma, Kern, Monterey and San Diego counties, McBride said. The claims contend that the Legislature’s decision to use county property taxes to fund schools amounts to a new funding mandate for counties, McBride said.

McBride acknowledged that since the Legislature approved the shift in the 1992-93 fiscal year, the proceeds have been funneled through the state coffers before allocated to schools.

But even if the channel is indirect, McBride said, counties contend the result is the same.

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Claims filed with the commission can only be filed annually. The county’s claim will apply to property tax proceeds shifted in the 1996-97 fiscal year.

Since 1992, the county has seen $247 million in property tax money shifted to the state. If the county’s 10 cities and numerous special districts are factored in, the figure totals $379 million, McBride said.


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