…could this be be a windfall and continuing funding stream for cash-strapped LAUSD M&O?
By Christina Villacorte, Staff Writer | LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/11ZPW95
7/01/2013 08:05:33 PM PDT An appeals court has ordered Los Angeles County to refund the Los Angeles Unified School District millions of dollars in redevelopment area property tax revenues that it had inaccurately withheld for years, and avoid shortchanging the LAUSD in the future.
The unanimous ruling issued last week sets a precedent for other school districts within the county to also demand refunds.
For now, it is unclear exactly how much money is involved.
"It's a multi-million dollar decision" was all LAUSD financial policy director John Walsh would say, adding that calculating property tax revenues is complicated because fluctuations in the real estate market have to be taken into consideration.
The county's assistant chief executive officer for intergovernmental and external affairs, Ryan Alsop, said Auditor-Controller Wendy Watanabe is currently crunching the numbers.
"There will likely be an impact (on the county budget), but we won't know the extent until the auditor-controller finishes their analysis," he wrote in an email.
Alsop said the county Board of Supervisors will decide whether to file an appeal with the California Supreme Court.
Under state law, the county is required to give LAUSD a share of the increase in property tax revenues resulting from redevelopment projects, dubbed "pass-through payments."
LAUSD accused the county of shortchanging it, by not factoring in the portion of property tax revenues diverted into the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund.
"Our argument was that our share of the pass-through pie was incorrectly reduced because the county didn't take into account all of the money," Walsh said.
The appeals court agreed, and explained that its decision means, "The resulting increase in LAUSD's property tax allocation base will cause a corresponding increase in LAUSD's"¦ pass-through payments."
Walsh said he expects LAUSD's pass-through payments will "basically be doubled."
He did not provide any specific numbers, but noted a trial court had previously ruled the refunds should go back to the 2003-2004 fiscal year.
He said other school districts, including Long Beach and the community college districts, have similar pending lawsuits against the county
Under state law, LAUSD is mandated to spend pass-through payments on facilities and maintenance costs only.