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County and Cudahy Feud Over $65,000

June 23, 2004|Sue Fox | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles County is pursuing an unlikely scofflaw that it says failed to pay a $65,000 bill: the city of Cudahy.

For 14 years, the Sheriff's Department had a contract to police Cudahy, a small city southeast of downtown Los Angeles. But in September, Cudahy decided that it could save money by teaming with nearby Maywood's police force instead.

Sheriff's officials contend that Cudahy has never paid its outstanding balance, so county Auditor-Controller J. Tyler McCauley is preparing to withhold property tax revenue allegedly due the city.

But Cudahy isn't about to flip open its checkbook. "We are disputing that bill," City Manager George Perez said.

Perez said the city, which generally had only two or three sheriff's deputies on patrol, had to cut back on policing in 2003 after it lost funding from a state grant. But the Sheriff's Department never adjusted the billing to match the lower service level, he said.

In fact, Perez said, the department owes Cudahy at least $80,000 from an unrelated drug seizure.

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