Governor signs bill returning funds to county’s newest cities

JURUPA VALLEY – Governor Jerry Brown today signed legislation that will restore millions of dollars in revenue taken away from four cities in Riverside County and used to pay for public safety realignment programs.

“With this bill, millions of tax dollars will flow to benefit the people of Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Menifee and Wildomar,” Brown said during a bill signing ceremony at Jurupa Valley City Hall.

Senate Bill 130, authored by members of the Senate Committee on Budget & Fiscal Review, will boost aggregate vehicle-license-fee-in-lieu-of-property-tax-revenue allocations to the four cities by $17 million to $19 million in the next fiscal year, and lower amounts thereafter, according to the legislation.

“I thank the governor for recognizing the critical nature of this funding for our cities, particularly with respect to keeping our neighborhoods and families safe,”  said Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside. “This has been an issue I have fought for since before I was even elected, and I am proud to have partnered with Assemblywoman (Sabrina) Cervantes in delivering this major
victory for our cities.”

Cervantes, D-Corona, called the ratification of SB 130 “momentous” and critical to providing “public safety services and the community benefit programs that our residents seek and deserve.”

The bill was reportedly one of the measures for which Cervantes and Roth sought the governor’ s support before committing their votes in favor of the divisive $52 billion gas tax package put forward under Senate Bill 1, which Brown signed into law last month.

SB 130 amends the California Revenue & Taxation Code to ensure that cities which incorporated between Jan. 1, 2004, and Jan. 1, 2012, receive funding based on a formula in effect prior to the ratification of Senate Bill 89 in June 2011.

SB 89 subtracted more than $15 million in tax increment reserved for newly incorporated municipalities and diverted the money to a law enforcement services account from which grants were obtained and awarded statewide to offset the cost of Assembly Bill 109, which shifted many state responsibilities onto counties, including housing some offenders in county jails instead of state prisons.

Wildomar incorporated on July 1, 2008; Menifee on Oct. 1, 2008; Eastvale on Oct. 1, 2010; and Jurupa Valley on July 1, 2011 – two days after SB 89 took effect. The nascent city was the hardest hit financially, losing half the funds anticipated in its budget for its first fiscal year.

Multiple attempts were made over the last six years to restore the lost money, but Brown vetoed every bill – even the ones that received overwhelming bipartisan support – citing budgetary concerns and inciting criticism that he was playing politics at the cities’ expense.

Members of the Jurupa Valley City Council at one time discussed suing him over the revenue losses stemming from SB 89 and his refusal to sign other bills that would’ ve restored the funds.

The governor did approve one-time, short-term relief in the form of SB 107 in the fall of 2015. The bill granted authority to the California Department of Finance to provide $24 million in credits to Jurupa Valley, Menifee and Wildomar. Eastvale was excluded from the relief bill, prompting a lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed.

The funds were to cover Riverside County’ s expenses providing law enforcement and fire services to the startup cities, all of which went into debt to the county during their initial years because they didn’ t receive the anticipated VLF allocations.

SB 130 will provide an ongoing stream of funding under a formula designed specifically to address the tax increment receipts they lost.

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