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Keeping Valley Issue on Ballot Urged

Secession: LAFCO chief says city's request to remove the question lacks merit, as does its bid for higher 'alimony.'


The top executive for the commission that approved San Fernando Valley secession for the Nov. 5 ballot recommended on Friday that the panel reject as meritless a city of Los Angeles request that the decision be reconsidered.

In his recommendation, Larry Calemine, executive director of the Local Agency Formation Commission, also said the city could not support its claim that the Valley should pay more so-called alimony to Los Angeles if secession wins.

LAFCO has set the alimony payment at $127.1 million the first year to cover tax revenue Los Angeles would lose. Los Angeles asked for $288 million. The payments would drop 5% annually until they ended in 20 years. The city wanted them to continue for 25 years with no gradual reduction.

Calemine said the city's argument that it needed more alimony to cover the cost of centralized services, such as the 911 emergency system, "defies common sense."

He said the city could avoid those costs by reorganizing departments and services if it loses the Valley.

He also said a city consultant's report on the $288-million claim lacked documentation and contained errors, rendering it "an unverifiable and likely inaccurate piece of research."

Mayor James K. Hahn disputed Calemine's findings.

"Larry Calemine's never managed any city budget that I know of," Hahn said, calling the LAFCO alimony proposal "unrealistic."

Because it already has rejected similar arguments by the city, LAFCO is expected to ratify Calemine's recommendation at a meeting on Monday.

That would clear the way for the county Board of Supervisors to hold a protest hearing at which 50% of the 581,000 voters in the Valley would have to file written objections to keep the secession measure off the ballot.

Calemine also recommended that LAFCO reject a city request that the commission lift restrictions on water and power rates that Los Angeles could charge Valley residents. LAFCO has barred Los Angeles from charging Valley customers higher rates than those paid by Los Angeles residents.

In addition, Calemine urged the commission to turn down the city's request that Los Angeles not be required to share with a Valley city the local proceeds of the national tobacco lawsuit settlement.

Los Angeles has also asked LAFCO to reconsider its decision to put Hollywood secession before voters. That request is pending.

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