Local Politics

Tuesday, Jan 08 2013 06:19 PM

Government roundup: Cities file grievances against county over tax issue

By The Bakersfield Californian

The cities of Arvin, Shafter, Tehachapi and Wasco have filed claims against the county of Kern claiming it has overcharged them for years for property tax administrative fees.

Tehachapi said the overcharges date back to the 2006-2007 fiscal year; the others said the overcharges started a year earlier.

The cities claim Kern County overcharged them for the administrative costs to allocate certain property taxes. In its calculation of those costs, the county included the value of certain "ad valorem" property taxes the cities get, they claim. It should have only included the cost of administering those taxes, not the values of the taxes themselves, they claim.

Similar claims have popped up in San Mateo and Los Angeles counties. The issue came before the California Supreme Court last year, and the court issued an opinion in favor of cities that challenged Los Angeles County. But the issue is still in limbo: the court could rehear the case, according to one claim.

The amounts aren't large: Arvin is seeking a refund of $121,275 from the county, Shafter is seeking $251,245 and Wasco is seeking $184,590.

Tehachapi didn't specify how much it's seeking, but referred to an "interest earning trust account" where the cities said the county is holding the funds. The amount listed for Tehachapi is $123,509.

Kern County's two state senators have received their new committee assignments.

Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, will serve on the committees on Energy, Utilities and Communications (vice chair); Environmental Quality; Natural Resources and Water; and Rules (vice chair).

Michael Rubio, D-Shafter, will be a member of the committees on Agriculture; Environmental Quality (chair); Health; Natural Resources and Water; Transportation and Housing; and Veterans Affairs.

Second District Kern County Supervisor Zack Scrivner is taking applications for a seat on the Citizens' Advisory Committee on Annexations.

The committee monitors policies and procedures for the annexation of unincorporated territory by the city of Bakersfield. It hears from citizens wanting to discuss annexation issues and advises the Board of Supervisors on annexation issues.

Anyone living in greater Bakersfield, including within Bakersfield city limits, is eligible to apply. The committee meets quarterly, and there is no compensation.

Applications are online at www.co.kern.ca.us/bos/boards/default.aspx. People can also get them by contacting Scrivner's office at 868-3660. Applications are due Feb. 11.

The Kern County grand jury looked into Bakersfield city government operations and only came up with one recommendation: That the city have a mission statement in line with city council goals, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Cities and Joint Powers Committee of the jury visited with the city manager and an administrative analyst in September for its inquiry, the report says.

It goes on to chronicle the history of the city's settlement and its development of a local government, then offers fun facts about how many city employees there are (462 full-time plus some seasonal workers), what the department budgets total and why Sam Lynn Ballpark is called Sam Lynn Ballpark. (Sam Lynn owned the Coca-Cola Bottling plant in town in the 1930s).

The jury highlights some of the city's main attractions and how many miles away it is from other big cities. And the report heaps praise on the city's employees, calling them creative thinkers, productive and friendly.

The grand jury asked the city to respond to its findings in 90 days.

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