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State to Fund Conversions, Face Lift for 2 Buildings

October 01, 1987|MARK GLADSTONE | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — Gov. George Deukmejian announced Wednesday that he has signed a bill that will provide $738,000 to refurbish a historic house in La Canada Flintridge and convert the Eagle Rock Library into a community center.

Another bill, signed by the governor over the weekend, is expected to bring about $100,000 into the La Canada Flintridge treasury as part of a $3.3-million payment to cities that do not levy property tax.

The bill the governor signed in midweek, sponsored by Sen. Dan McCorquodale (D-San Jose), splits about $20 million in revenue from oil drilling on state tidelands.

Among other things, the bill sets aside $500,000 to refurbish the 73-year-old California Craftsman-style Lanterman House as a museum and La Canada Flintridge city offices.

The legislation also includes $238,000 to turn the the old Eagle Rock Library into a community center. The governor had rejected the funds in the state budget in July.

Earthquake Standards

The money would enable the City of Los Angeles to bring the library in the 2200 block of Colorado Boulevard up to earthquake standards and install access for the handicapped.

La Canada Flintridge officials said they hope to pay for improvements to the city's park program with the city's share of $3.3 million to be distributed to 43 Los Angeles County cities by a bill signed by Deukmejian on Saturday.

However, critics of the legislation have already warned that they may try to amend it with legislation to spell out standards for awarding the funds, based on each city's need.

"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.

In an interview 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 such as La Canada Flintridge, which have 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 create 109 judgeships.

Before the cities become eligible for the aid, Los Angeles County must agree to the financing shift. If the Board of Supervisors agrees, the county would get about 14 Superior Court judgeships and eight Municipal Court judgeships.

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.

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 10 years. When fully implemented, the law will cost about $220 million a year statewide.

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