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City official knocks state payout

Officials say more money should have been allocated to pay down debt.

June 16, 2012|By Jason Wells and Maria Hsin, Times Community News

After maneuvering through a tangled bureaucratic mess, Burbank and Glendale have received millions to pay down redevelopment-related debt obligations, although the amounts they received fell short of what city officials say is their fair share.

In the ongoing tussle with the state over how much property tax revenue cities should get to cover the debt obligations they were left holding when the state dissolved local redevelopment agencies, the latest round of allocations did little to quell feelings among city officials that they've been forced to grovel for money to cover expenses that would normally have been taken care of.

Glendale City Manager Scott Ochoa on Friday said that while some money was better than none, the process had moved beyond questions of fairness and into the realm of “insanity.”

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“We, cities and former [redevelopment agencies], are now reduced to having to beg for funding that has historically been ours,” he said in a statement. ”What if every six months you had to beg your bank to let you access your accounts? Or beg your lender to renew your mortgage? It goes beyond a question of fairness — this is insanity.”

Acting at the direction of the state Department of Finance, Los Angeles County this month dispersed roughly $12.9 million in property tax income to Glendale for the six-month period from July 1 through December, though city officials say the county had about $14.9 million available. That was after they were denied funds to cover a $6-million loan made by the city to the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency, and millions more in combined housing obligations and administrative costs.

“Of course it is good to get some of the funds we need to pay our debts and obligations, but the amount received was well short of the indicated need,” Ochoa said.

Burbank received $13 million after submitting a request for $16.5 million for the six-month period, although it was unclear if that was the city's total debt obligation or the portion officials wanted covered by property tax income.

The city was not hit nearly as hard as Glendale by the axing of local redevelopment.

“Right now, we feel as good as we can feel under the circumstances,” said Ruth Davidson-Guerra, assistant community development director. “We're grateful for the progress that has been made.”

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