California's decision to transfer responsibility of tens of thousands of state prisoners to its counties is being blamed for the state's newest city, Jurupa Valley, disincorporating.
About 50 miles east of Los Angeles, Jurupa Valley, a city of around 100,000, was expected to file papers in December 2013 to revert itself to an unincorporated area of Riverside County, according to Mayor Verne Lauritzen.
Lauritzen said Jurupa Valley, just founded in 2011, struggled out of the gate when its incorporation coincided with Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown's signing of California's criminal justice "realignment" law, which reduces prison overcrowding—as mandated by a federal court order—by shifting state prisoners convicted of nonviolent, low-level offenses to county jails. The law also makes counties responsible for probation as well as anti-drug and mental health programs.
To help cover such costs, Brown and state legislators redirected $130 million in vehicle-license fees intended for municipalities to the counties. That cost Jurupa Valley, according to Lauritzen, $4.2 million, or 47% of its expected revenue, in its first year as a city.
"We don't need a handout," Lauritzen told Bloomberg News. "All we're looking to do is deal with an inequity. [Lawmakers] should fix it."
While legislation to restore funding had stalled in the California Assembly, two competing bills aimed at preventing the court-ordered release of thousands of California prisoners by the end of 2013 were considered by some to be too costly and would reduce the state's budget reserve.
One, backed by Brown, Republican leaders, law-enforcement groups and California Assembly Speaker John Perez, a Democrat, would cost $700 million over two years. The other, proposed by state Senate Democrats, would cost $500 million.
Meanwhile, Jurupa Valley is not the only city claiming to be lost without the vehicle-license fees. Wildomar, Eastvale and Menifee—all of them also in Riverside County, and all of them incorporated since 2004—might also have to disincorporate if California lawmakers do not push through legislation that restores municipal funding.
None of the four cities have any outstanding debts nor have pension obligations.
Jurupa Valley's disincorporation would make it the first California municipality to do so since Hornitos, a city of fewer than 100 in the San Joaquin Valley was dissolved by the legislature in 1973. The same year, the city of Cabazon was also terminated after public discord over gambling.
In September 2015, however, Jurupa Valley rescinded its resolution to disincorporate, after the state paid off debts the city owed to Riverside County. “We’re not going anywhere,” said Jurupa Valley Mayor Brad Hancock.
Sources: www.pe.com, www.bloomberg.com
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