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9 Communities to Gain From Court Funding Bill

September 17, 1987|MARK GLADSTONE | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — At least nine San Gabriel Valley cities are expected to benefit from last-minute compromise legislation hammered out last week by Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights) and other lawmakers before they adjourned for the year.

The provision--to aid small cities with little or no property tax revenue--was tied to a bill to overhaul state court funding which won passage early Saturday.

"We've been harping on it for about four years and the Legislature finally wanted to deal with it," said Joe Gonsalves, a capital lobbyist and former Norwalk assemblyman who represents some cities that would benefit from the bill.

Among the communities that stand to gain from the bill are Bradbury, Duarte, the City of Industry, Irwindale, La Puente, Rosemead, San Dimas, Temple City and Walnut.

The Legislature also gave final passage to a bill that earmarks $600,000 in seed money for a new courthouse in Monterey Park to handle cases involving child abuse or neglect.

Frank Zolin, Superior Court executive officer, said the funds would be used to develop plans to build the courthouse near California State University, Los Angeles. It would house 25 courtrooms to be completed in 1991 at a cost of about $40 million. The money would come from state, county and private sources, Zolin said.

Now, Zolin said, dependency cases are tried in the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles, which he branded a "totally improper setting" for children who are often the victims of crimes.

The bill including the court funds allocates a total of $20 million in state tidelands oil revenues for projects around the state. Legislative leaders say they are optimistic that Gov. George Deukmejian will sign the measure.

Deukmejian announced this week the signing of a third bill with a direct impact on the San Gabriel Valley. It is a measure by Assemblywoman Sally Tanner (D-El Monte) to establish "sensitive zones" for air quality in the heavily polluted San Gabriel and Pomona valleys and the Riverside-San Bernardino area.

Her law requires plants that move into the zones to demonstrate that air quality in those areas would directly benefit from pollution offsets purchased elsewhere in the air basin.

The measure to aid small cities--long sought by Campbell--is also expected to be looked upon favorably by the governor.

The legislation was part of a landmark bill to shift the burden of trial court costs from counties to the state. Under the measure by Sen. William Lockyer (D-Hayward), the counties would have the option of adopting the transfer. If signed, it could free about $300 million for other programs, including aid to cities with little or no property tax revenue.

Such cities maintain that they have been caught in a fiscal bind since passage in 1978 of tax-cutting Proposition 13, which made it difficult for them to impose new taxes. Further, they say they have grown but have not had the new revenue necessary to pay for services.

Jerry Haleva, Campbell's chief of staff, contended that his boss was seeking to address "an inequity in the distribution of property taxes."

However, legislative critics contend that many of the cities have plenty of money in their coffers and do not need the extra revenue. One legislative staffer who asked not to be identified complained that cities could obtain the funds without passing a "needs test."

The staffer said Campbell fashioned the compromise on the bill with Assembly Speaker Willie Brown (D-San Franciso) and Adminstration officials. Nearby, Gonsalves prowled Capitol corridors seeking support from lawmakers.

Gonsalves, a soft-spoken but persistent advocate, said he viewed the measure as an opportunity to provide a boost to cities he represents.

Further, after four years, the legislative staffer contended "it was time (for Gonsalves) to deliver for his cities."

The aid would be phased in over a decade, with cities getting increments of 10% for the next 10 years.

Legislative staffers estimated that in the first year the cities to benefit would include: Bradbury, $1,500; Duarte, $19,000; Industry, $71,000; Irwindale, $37,000; La Puente, $49,000; Rosemead, $95,000; San Dimas, $6,400; Temple City, $69,000; and Walnut $41,000.

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