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Officials cautious about VLF funds

Robert Chacon

Local officials are cautiously optimistic about Gov. Arnold

Schwarzenegger’s emergency order to begin payments that cities and

counties lost when he rescinded the tripling of the car tax.

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Schwarzenegger on Thursday announced an initial round of payments

that will be made without the need for legislative approval -- $150

million in cuts to several state programs, including the University

of California and California State University systems.

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While the first round of payments are a step in the right

direction, Burbank officials are questioning where the rest of the

$2.6 billion in payments will come from.

“I am very pleased with the governor’s actions,” Councilwoman

Marsha Ramos said. “But the Legislature’s job will be more difficult

when they try to find some resolution for [future payments].”

Schwarzenegger has not said what programs he will cut in order to

restore money owed to local governments, and any further cuts he

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makes will need legislative approval.

The governor authorized the payments by calling upon a provision

of budget law that allows him to order emergency payments for

government agencies that have overspent their budgets. Past governors

have used the order to provide money for prisons and health care.

Burbank stands to lose about $4 million from its general fund if

car-tax payments are not backfilled, Assistant City Manager Mike Flad

said.

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“Any enthusiasm we have because of the governor’s actions is

tempered by the question of where he is going to get the rest of the

money,” Flad said.

City officials do not know how much they will receive as a result

of the governor’s action.

Cities use car-tax money for general budget items like police and

fire departments, and other services. Burbank will begin looking at

which services and projects to cut back when it begins its midyear

budget review process, Ramos said.

“We’re going to have to look at everything and weigh carefully

what to cut,” she said.


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