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Funding Cuts Could Close 5 Local Parks : Budget: Shift of $2.6 billion in property taxes means county will lose at least $273 million. Pasadena mayor says loss is 'going to be pretty devastating.'


THE REGION — No county fire stations are expected to be shut, but five parks could be closed in the San Gabriel Valley under the tentative budget approved by the County Board of Supervisors this week.

The county and San Gabriel Valley cities are trying to assess the damage to their budgets in the wake of the state's shift of $2.6 billion in property taxes from local governments to schools. For the cities, the blow is expected to be softened by a one-year transfer of vehicle license fees.

"We're not celebrating," Pasadena Mayor Rick Cole said. "The cuts are going to be pretty devastating."

Los Angeles County will be particularly hard hit by the property-tax shift and will lose at least $273 million. Supervisors have tentatively approved a budget that would close one hospital, four jails, eight sheriff's stations and 23 parks, and cost 9,500 employees their jobs. The cuts would be even deeper if voters do not approve a half-cent sales tax in November.

The parks targeted for closure in the San Gabriel Valley are Arcadia Community Regional County Park, Charter Oak County Park near Covina, Gloria Heer County Park and Trail View County Park in Rowland Heights, and Oak Grove Community Regional Park in Pasadena. Pasadena has already agreed to take over maintenance of the park.

It was unclear if any sheriff's stations in the San Gabriel Valley would close.

The county's fire stations were expected to be spared because special fire districts were exempt from the shift in property taxes from local governments.

The County Fire Department had announced it would be forced to close 11 fire stations in the San Gabriel Valley and eliminate four local paramedic units.

The state budget had not been finalized Wednesday and legislators were still debating how to divvy up money for cities and counties.

But in the worst-case scenario, Pasadena, for example, would lose $1.8 million in state funds in the fiscal year that begins July 1, according to the state legislative analyst.

The city would lose an additional $814,000 the following year when the state stops giving cities vehicle license fees.

Under the best-case scenario, Pasadena and other cities would receive revenue from a half-cent sales tax--that still must be approved by voters--to defray the loss of the property-tax shift.

But even with that money, cities would come out behind. Pasadena, for example, would lose $891,000.

"This is the same state that made a $1-billion clerical error in last year's budget. So we're taking this cautiously," Cole said.

The state is expected to extend for six months a half-cent sales tax scheduled to expire July 31. Cities, counties and special districts will receive an estimated $700 million from the tax. If voters in November make the sales tax permanent, local governments would receive $1.4 billion annually.

State officials say no firm decision has been reached on how to divvy up the sales-tax revenue.

"It's like putting a Band-Aid on a wound," said Julio J. Fuentes, Alhambra's city manager.

Fuentes said the city will continue its legal challenge to the state's authority to divert property taxes and expects the lawsuit to go to trial in Los Angeles Superior Court next month.

More than 70 cities have written in support of the lawsuit.

From Bad to Worse

State legislators are considering two scenarios for funding cities. The left-hand column represents the worst-case scenario: what cities will lose in property taxes, minus what they could receive in vehicle license fees. The right-hand column represents the best-case scenario: what cities will lose in property taxes, minus what they could receive in vehicle license fees and revenue from a half-cent sales tax.

The most money Least cities cities will lose will lose City from the state from the state Alhambra $798,000 $399,000 Arcadia 524,000 262,000 Azusa 332,000 166,000 Baldwin Park 341,000 171,000 Bradbury 11,000 6,000 Claremont 365,000 183,000 Covina 453,000 227,000 Diamond Bar 76,000 38,000 Duarte 127,000 63,000 El Monte 483,000 241,000 Glendora 473,000 237,000 Industry 9,000 5,000 Irwindale 14,000 7,000 La Puente 0 0 La Verne 415,000 208,000 Monrovia 490,000 245,000 Monterey Park 726,000 363,000 Pasadena 1,781,000 891,000 Pomona 1,820,000 910,000 Rosemead 0 0 San Dimas 297,000 148,000 San Gabriel 220,000 110,000 San Marino 174,000 86,000 Sierra Madre 144,000 72,000 South El Monte 0 0 South Pasadena 323,000 151,000 Temple City 0 0 Walnut 186,000 93,000 West Covina 777,000 388,000

Source: State legislative analyst

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