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Southern California IN BRIEF / LOS ANGELES

Higher Gas Bills Boost City's Budget Surplus

April 03, 2001

A sharp rise in the gas bills of Los Angeles consumers has produced an unexpected surge in tax revenue which, along with the good economy, will produce a $70-million surplus in the city budget, officials said Monday.

Revenue from the natural gas tax has jumped 42%, leaving nearly $19 million more than projected in the budget for the fiscal year that ends June 30, they said.

At the same time, revenue from the city tax on electric bills has remained steady, reflecting the advantage that customers of the Department of Water and Power have had over those elsewhere, who are facing sharp price hikes.

The increased gas tax revenue is the main source of the expected surplus; the remainder comes from a broad range of taxes. Overall, Mayor Richard Riordan said, the unanticipated revenue reflects "the fundamental strength of the city's diverse economy." Riordan, who will release his final city budget April 18, is exploring ways to address residents' concerns over soaring utility bills, aides said.

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