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City, county want flexible funds

Proposed change in law would help governments cover administrative costs

Posted: January 5, 2010 8:57 p.m.
Updated: January 6, 2010 6:00 a.m.
 

Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County officials want to use funds set aside for building roads and bridges to cover related administrative costs as well.

The problem: It's not currently legal. So state Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, has proposed a change to the law that would allow the county to use up to $300,000 in major road construction funds to pay for reports and other bureaucratic fees, officials said.

"Right now, we can spend money on bacon and eggs," City Councilman Frank Ferry said at a city meeting Tuesday. "With this amendment, you could spend money on bacon, eggs and toast."

San Diego and Orange counties already enjoy such freedom.

The city of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County share management of road construction in the Santa Clarita Valley, said Dennis Hunter, the assistant deputy director of the County Department of Public Works land development division.

The road construction funds come from building permit fees. The county and city also collect fees from contractors who work on roads that benefit either Santa Clarita or Los Angeles County drivers, said Paul Novak, planning deputy for Fifth District County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.

Currently, the city and county can only use the money for a limited range of building-related costs. If the amendment passes, the money could be used in additional ways, Hunter said.

Novak said fees collected by county districts have helped pay for some of the construction on Magic Mountain Parkway and the cross-valley connector, the $245 million road that will connect Interstate 5 with Highway 14.

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