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L.A. County supervisors seek legislation to permit refunds for Bell taxpayers

Reacting to the Bell city salary scandal, Los Angeles County supervisors on Tuesday said they were seeking state legislation to return $2.9 million in property tax overcharges to Bell property owners.

Bell city officials illegally raised its property taxes in 2007, imposing a "retirement tax" to cover rising pension costs for its employees, state controller John Chiang found last week. But Chiang said Bell residents wouldn't be getting a tax refund because state law says such tax overpayments must instead go to schools in the city of Bell.

The supervisors' motion on Tuesday, which seeks to fix that problem, orders county officials to lobby lawmakers in Sacramento to permit a refund to Bell property taxpayers.

The revelation of the illegal retirement tax last week appeared to confirm longstanding complaints from Bell property owners that they were being overtaxed. The Times reported last month that Bell officials collected huge paychecks, that the city had cut police and other services, and that its property owners were paying higher tax rates than all but one city in Los Angeles County.

The owner of a home in Bell, a working class city of 39,000 southeast of Los Angeles, with an assessed value of $400,000 will save about $360 a year because of the cut, an official with the Los Angeles County auditor-controller's office said last week.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II reporting from the Los Angeles County Hall of Administration

Comments () | Archives (7)

Hold your hats; the unions for education (teachers) will countersue to get "their money" Since it is ill-gotten that will not stop them for a minute. They are beyong greedy!

The unions won't like this. They consider any money, even ill-gotten to be theirs. Give the money back to the people whom it belongs!!

Giving the money to the schools is like we are being robbed yet AGAIN. WE paid the illegal property taxes, therefore WE are entitled to a refund/credit!

working class people live in $400,000 houses in bell?

$2.9 million won't make a drop of difference in the ever-expanding state budget deficit. Since the money was acquired illegally, the state should give it back. If they refuse, there are other remedies.

I'm not a big fan lawsuits, but think this is one the City of Bell could win, and would be completely justified in filing. If I break into your house at night and steal cash out of your safe, and then the next day I transform that loot into a money order and deposit in the state's fund for schools, don't the schools, just as a matter of common decency, have to give the money back?

Talk about a violation of the 14th amendment! We are talking about THEFT, folks! Geeze. this should be a no-brainer. If the the law says you can't give the money back because it ended up in the hands of teachers, then I say the law is an ASS and should be declared unconstitutional. John Chiang's adherence to an idiotic rule that allows him to deny returning stolen money strikes me as an act of denying Bell citizens their right to property without due process.

If the state is stupid enough to deny repayment, may they be slammed with punitive damages and fines and legal fees that make the original sum seem insignificant. It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of thieves.

The unions wants a fight, we will give them one. We are tired of corrupt officials.
We paid the money and we want it back, no buts about it.

Those who were ripped off should get the money back plus penalty and interest. The same rates the city charges. This kind of crap will put everyone aginst the city and state. Time to throw the unions out.


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