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Stimulus funding might have hidden price tag

Antonovich worries money could lock county into costly obligations

Posted: March 11, 2009 1:19 a.m.
Updated: March 11, 2009 9:00 a.m.
 
Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich is worried that accepting federal stimulus funding could ultimately leave costs for program mandates in the hands of Los Angeles County taxpayers.

On Tuesday, he called on fellow supervisors to investigate that possibility.

"We want to ensure that accepting these dollars will not lock in county taxpayers for additional spending after the stimulus money is gone," said Antonovich, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley. "We need a thorough analysis of the long-term impact these programs will have on the county budget."

The supervisors agreed to the investigation.

If the county were to accept $5 million for a program it doesn't currently provide, or one with limited revenues, and the federal government says the program must continue even after the federal money is depleted, the taxpayer could inherit the financial burden in the long term, said Tony Bell, spokesman for Antonovich.

"There may very well be strings attached when the county accepts these federal dollars and the county taxpayer may be on the hook for the long-term tab," Bell said.

The county's chief executive officer must report back in 14 days with a thorough analysis of the projects proposed in the federal stimulus package and whether the projects will require funding beyond what the package provides.

It will also address whether state laws need to be changed to accept the stimulus dollars and whether the county would be obligated to change any existing program practices, requirements or funding-match levels after the stimulus funding ends, according to a board news release.

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