Assembly OKs bill that would forgive $3.5M in county debt

The California state Assembly approved AB 1676, a bill to correct the apportionment factors used by San Benito County to allocate property tax revenues to the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund. The bill passed off the Assembly floor today 78-0 with overwhelming bi-partisan support.

The bill would alleviate San Benito County from reimbursing the State $3.5 million. The State Controller’s audits conducted in 2005 and 2009 indicated that San Benito County underfunded the Educational Revenue Augmentation Fund for the fiscal years between 1993 and 2001.

“Due to its small size, San Benito County is not audited as often as large counties,” said Assembly member Luis Alejo, in a press release. “Therefore, tax revenue errors go unnoticed for longer periods of time. This allows the debt to compound before giving the county an opportunity to correct the mistake.”

Other counties have had their debt assessment forgiven in a similar manner in the past, including the counties of Riverside, Plumas, Santa Clara and Santa Barbara.

AB 1676 is supported by San Benito County’s District Attorney Candice Hooper, San Benito County Board of Supervisors, San Benito County’s County Counsel, San Benito County’s Probation Department, City of Hollister, City of San Juan Bautista, San Benito County’s Health and Human Services Agency, San Benito County’s Assessor, San Benito County Treasurer-Tax Collector-Public Administrator Mary Lou Andrade, San Benito County’s Administrative Officer Rich Inman, San Benito County’s Water District, San Juan Bautista Cemetery District, California State Association of Counties, State Association of County Auditors, Regional Council of Rural Counties, Senior Council, the Area Agency on Aging of Santa Cruz & San Benito Counties, and Advocacy Inc.

The bill will now be sent to the California State Senate for consideration.

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