April 09, 2015

Millions on the Table for Menifee, Wildomar in Senator's Financial Restoration Bill


An Inland Empire lawmaker’s bill seeking to restore millions of dollars stripped away from four Riverside County cities under a state budget reorganization cleared its first legislative hurdle this week.

Senate Bill 25, sponsored by Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance on Wednesday and next goes before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 25 proposes to replace some of the funding lost by Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, Menifee and Wildomar in 2011, when the Legislature enacted changes to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s deficit reduction priorities.

“I am grateful my colleagues have recognized how important this funding is for our cities’ residents, especially for residents in California’s newest city, Jurupa Valley,” Roth said. “SB 25 provides funding for the newly incorporated cities ... which all lost critical funding through no fault of their own.”

Under the bill, beginning in the next fiscal year, vehicle license fee revenue would be allocated to the four cities based on a formula that factors in population and local property tax assessments.

The legislation is similar to a bill that Roth carried last year, SB 56, which received majority support in the Assembly and Senate, but was vetoed by the governor, who cited concerns about digging into the general fund to make the funding available.

For the same reasons, Brown also vetoed an Assembly bill seeking to restore funding to the cities in 2012. Other bills have been submitted but lost traction in the Legislature.

The four cities were entitled to roughly $15 million from the state when the Legislature approved -- and the governor signed -- SB 89 into law. The act shifted funds owed to cities that incorporated between 2004 and 2011 into a “Law Enforcement Services Account” established to offset expenses incurred by counties and municipalities under the governor’s public safety realignment plan.

Wildomar incorporated on July 1, 2008; Menifee incorporated on Oct. 1, 2008; Eastvale incorporated on Oct. 1, 2010; and Jurupa Valley incorporated 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 first fiscal year budget.

Jurupa Valley has been unable to make good on payments for public safety services, which the county has maintained, allowing payments to be deferred, though not indefinitely.

Jurupa Valley Councilman Verne Laurtizen told City News Service that the city’s financial condition remains tenuous and disincorporation continues to be a possibility.


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