South Valley Property Tax Battle

March 9, 2009 6:16:13 PM PDT
A lawsuit in the South Valley is pitting the city of Visalia against Tulare County. They're fighting over money that could impact jobs.Many cities pay the state a fee when they receive property tax money, but now, many cities, including those here in Tulare County, are upset that they're paying the fee twice ? to the state and the county.

The city of Visalia could see $250,000 gone from its budget if it doesn't come to an agreement with Tulare County on how much the city pays in fees for property tax revenue it receives.

Eric Frost, City of Visalia, said "Everybody's struggling with money now and we can understand that it's difficult for both the county and the city but we just believe that paying administrative fees twice is crazy."

Tulare County officials say they used to pay the quarter million dollars in fees but now, according to law, it's the city's turn.

Rita Woodard, Tulare County Tax Collector, said "The cities said Woah! This was more money than what we thought it was going to be. And so the lawsuit developed up and down the state. It's a whole statewide issue."

City officials say the county is taking out money where they shouldn't ? and too much of it.

Frost said "The city's position would be saying, Now, hold it. You were having to collect that money anyway."

Frost says paying the money would mean a loss of jobs and maybe even cuts to programs in Visalia. Woodard said "That's part of the battle in the lawsuit ? what is the cost and has it increased or not increased and is it allowable under the law?"

Tulare County cities are hoping the county will sign an agreement to wait and see what happens with other cities and counties that are battling the issue in court right now, so they don't have to sue the county.

Thousands of dollars are at stake, crucial money for both the cities and the county.

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