By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
While the city of Bakersfield and county of Kern continue their battle over multiple tax revenue issues, the county has refunded $3.3 million to the city that Bakersfield overpaid in property tax administrative fees to the county over the last six years, according to a memo by City Manager Alan Tandy.
The overpayment of fees dates back to the 2006-07 fiscal year, according to Tandy. The fees are money the county collects to process and collect property taxes.
Tandy cautioned in his memo that the sizable refund is an accumulation over several years.
"Although this is good news, it is a one-time repayment of monies which have accrued over the past six years," Tandy said. "Moving forward, the reduction in property tax administrative fees will be much more modest on an annual basis. Therefore, the majority of this amount does not represent recurring revenues."
Steve Teglia, assistant to the city manager, said the refund money hasn't been allocated to any specific city use yet, but would likely be used for one-time expenses, such as capital improvement spending.
Bakersfield isn't the only Kern County city to have challenged the county on property tax administration fees. In December, Arvin, Shafter, Tehachapi and Wasco filed claims against the county claiming they also were overcharged for years for property tax administrative fees. In total, those claims came to less than $1 million.
The refund to Bakersfield follows a recent court ruling in favor of cities in Los Angeles County that had challenged the county on property tax administrative fees they were charged.
In the meantime, two separate tax disputes still are brewing between Bakersfield and Kern County. One is over how property tax revenue is split between the two for land that's newly annexed to Bakersfield. The second argument is over how fire protection funds, also part of property taxes, are split between the city and county.
In both cases, county administrators say Bakersfield has been getting more than its fair share for years to the tune of several million dollars. Bakersfield staff have disagreed.