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Bill would return vehicle license fee funds to cities

Legislature passes proposed law, which awaits governor's signature

Posted: September 4, 2012 6:16 p.m.
Updated: September 4, 2012 6:16 p.m.
 

A bill co-authored by Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, and passed in last week’s legislative scramble could put $400,000 into Santa Clarita’s coffers within the next year and potentially much more in the future, officials said Tuesday.

AB 1098, approved by the Legislature during as it wrapped up its session Friday night, would direct vehicle license fees collected from residents living in cities back into the general funds of those cities.

The bill restores funding that the state seized as its own last year, confiscating $130 million in city vehicle license fees statewide.

The bill must be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown to become law.

“Stripping those funds from local governments is the wrong way to make up the difference,” Smyth said in a statement issued Tuesday. “Cities are relying on those funds to pay for their police and fire services, along with other vital programs.”

Smyth spokesman Sean Hoffman said Santa Clarita helped in the passage of the bill.

“We relied heavily on the city to make us aware of the positive impact it would have on Santa Clarita,” he said.

The money is a significant boon to the city, which has increased its population recently through annexation, city officials said. Santa Clarita performs financial analyses before adding any area, said Mike Murphy, intergovernmental relations officer for the city. The city planned annexations with this revenue in mind, he said.

“The vehicle license fee was calculated as a revenue source for those annexations,” Murphy said, explaining that Sacramento taking those funds represented a $400,000 hit to the city’s budget for its recent annexations.
Future annexations could have left the city without another $1.3 million.

“We’re just extremely appreciative for Cameron Smyth’s help on this issue,” said city spokeswoman Gail Ortiz, referring to the Santa Clarita Valley’s state Assembly representative whose term expires this year.
“We’re going to miss him in the Legislature.”

psmith@the-signal.com
661-287-5526

 

 

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