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County drops Bush a line citing cut to reimbursement program as a ‘cruel tax shift'

June 05, 2002|By LAURA MITCHELL

Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors sent a letter to President Bush on Tuesday stating the county needs more tax reimbursement money and a proposed $45 million cut to the reimbursement program is "a cruel tax shift."

The county gets money from the federal government, called payment in lieu of taxes, to replace property tax money it would have collected if government land was owned privately.

Supervisor Gary Wyatt said just under 50 percent of land in Imperial County is owned by the federal or state government.

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Assistant County Executive Officer Robertta Burns said the payment in lieu of taxes program has never reimbursed the county 100 percent. At one time the county received 63 percent, now it receives about 40 percent.

The county has obligations and provides services on land for which it doesn't get any property tax money, Burns said.

Wyatt said this is a problem throughout the western United States. Nevada is 91 percent federal lands, he said.

The letter states challenges on federal lands such as the death of illegal immigrants trying to cross the border and rowdy visitors to the Imperial Sand Dunes are burdens to the county's budget.

Also at the meeting, the board took action on the following legislation:

· opposed state Assembly Bill 2752 regarding discrimination against injured workers;

· opposed state Senate Bill 1521, called a smart growth model for land use. The state Association of Counties opposes the bill saying it gives the state too much say over issues that should be part of local planning;

· supporting state SB 1468 regarding county zoning and military facilities. According to the bill's author, state Sen. William J. Knight, R-Palmdale, the bill requires cities and counties to zone lands for compatible uses around military facilities;

· supported federal legislation House Resolution 3493 on geothermal production tax credits.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or lauramitchell9@yahoo.com

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