SACRAMENTO — A bill signed into law last weekend by Gov. George Deukmejian will provide 43 Los Angeles County cities with about $3.3 million in extra revenue next year, but critics have already complained that the law fails to spell out standards for awarding the funds.
"It looks as though it's a smorgasbord of cities without any rationale," said Sen. Marian Bergeson (R-Newport Beach), chairwoman of the Senate Local Government Committee.
The new law, which is linked to a major overhaul of state court funding, will aid cities with little or no property tax revenue. The amount will be increased 10% each year for the next decade.
Among the San Gabriel Valley communities that stand to gain are Bradbury, Duarte, the City of Industry, Irwindale, La Puente, Rosemead, San Dimas, Temple City and Walnut.
In an interview on Monday, Bergeson said that when the Legislature reconvenes in January she plans to introduce a bill "that will set specific criteria" for cities to receive aid. As a result, cities with substantial reserves could get less than expected.
Further, Bergeson voiced reservations about the way the aid to the cities was hastily inserted into the court reform bill last month--on the last night of the 1987 legislative session.
"I have a major concern about how it was handled," Bergeson said, adding that neither she nor her committee was consulted about the specific legislation.
Instead, the provision to aid the cities was hammered out in private discussions among Democratic and Republican legislative leaders. They linked it to the bill to shift the burden of trial court costs from counties to the state and add 109 judgeships.
Before the cities become eligible for the aid, Los Angeles County must agree to the funding shift. If the Board of Supervisors agrees, the county would get 14 Superior Court judgeships and eight Municipal Court judgeships. Of the Municipal Court judges, four would be in downtown Los Angeles and one each in the Antelope Valley, Compton, East Los Angeles and the South Bay.
Lois Wallace, a spokeswoman for the state Finance Department, said the Deukmejian administration did not have a strong opinion about aid to the cities but believed it was necessary to sign the bill to revamp court funding.
"We just didn't feel we could delay it another year," Wallace said of court reform.
Deukmejian signed the bill, carried by Sen. William Lockyer (D-Hayward), into law on Saturday. When it takes effect next year, it could free about $375 million statewide for other programs, including aid to cities that levy little or no property tax.
These cities maintain that they have been caught in a fiscal pinch since 1978 when the tax-cutting Proposition 13 won passage. It made it difficult for the cities to impose new taxes, and the cities say they have grown but have not had the new revenue to pay for services.
However, critics contend that many of the cities have plenty of money and do not need the extra revenue.
The aid will be phased in, with cities getting 10% more each year for the next 10 years. When fully implemented, statewide the law will cost about $220 million a year, according to legislative estimates.
In other actions this week, the governor signed a bill by Sen. Dan McCorquodale (D-San Jose) that splits about $20 million in revenue from oil drilling on state tidelands.
In the San Gabriel Valley, the bill directs $600,000 for preliminary plans to construct a county courthouse in Monterey Park to handle cases of children who are abused, neglected or the victims of crimes, or whose parents have been accused of crimes. The courthouse, to be located near California State University, Los Angeles, could eventually cost $40 million.