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CITY HALL JOURNAL

LYNWOOD : Raids on Water Fund Blamed for Rate Hike

August 11, 1994|JOHN D. WAGNER

City officials have acknowledged that they approved a 75% increase in water rates partly to offset years of raids by the city on water revenues for other purposes.

In the past seven years, the city has diverted more than $4.5 million in water revenues, city officials said. The raids on the water fund, coupled with higher prices to purchase water from the Metropolitan Water District, created a deficit in the water fund that prompted the increase, officials said.

A divided Lynwood City Council recently approved a $49-million city budget that includes the higher water rates. Two of the five council members walked out of the meeting in protest of the rate hike, among other things. The three remaining members--Mayor Paul H. Richards II, Louis Heine and Louis Byrd--approved the budget.

"The city is just ripping off the water fund," Councilman Robert Henning said. He and Councilman Armando Rea left the meeting after protesting the rate hikes.

Other city officials defended the use of water revenues for other purposes, saying the maneuver prevented budget cuts or increases in other taxes. They also said other cities have done the same thing.

"If we had not done this we would have had a half-million-dollar deficit in the general fund and would have had to cut police or fire services or raise other taxes," said finance director Alfretta Earnest.

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