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Orange County

Judge's Ruling Will Net School District Millions

Court: Yorba Linda Redevelopment Agency must pay more than $240 million over 30 years.

July 20, 2002|DANIEL YI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled this week that Yorba Linda's Redevelopment Agency has illegally kept tax funds from local schools and now must pay more than $240 million to the district, school officials said Friday.

"This is a $240-million victory for the students," said Dennis Smith, superintendent of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District. "The money will really allow us to fulfill our dreams so important to our kids."

Part of the dream is building a high school, Smith said, the first one in Yorba Linda.

The ruling, reached Wednesday but made public Friday, caps a three-year legal battle between the two agencies over tax funds generated by city's redevelopment plan.

In 1983, the city formed the redevelopment agency to help spur growth in the community. Because of the foreseeable impact on schools, the redevelopment agency agreed to compensate the school district with a portion of the growth in tax revenue. The two parties could never agree on the amount, however, and the school district sued.

Superior Court Judge Robert Gallivan ruled that the district is owed about $7 million in past revenue, and that the redevelopment agency must pay an additional $240 million over the next 30 years.

It is a tentative ruling because accountants must double-check the calculations.

City officials have maintained that the amounts sought by the district were excessive. City Manager Terrence Belanger said Friday that council members will review the ruling at a meeting perhaps as early as next week, and decide whether to accept or appeal the judge's decision.

"At the end of the day," Belanger said, "[we] are all serving the same constituency and we must find ways to work cooperatively."

The Placentia-Yorba Linda district serves 27,000 students in both cities and parts of Anaheim.

The district this year passed a $102-million construction bond measure that included only planning phases for a new high school. The redevelopment funds, Smith said, will allow the district to build the high school.

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