Board orders an investigation of Vernon’s books amid concerns that an effort to dissolve the city might unfairly burden county coffers.

By Garrett Therolf and Sam Allen, Los Angeles Times
August 17, 2011

Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to order an investigation of Vernon’s finances amid worries that an effort to dissolve the city might unfairly burden county coffers.

The inquiry followed a report in The Times on Sunday that outlined a steady decline in the city’s finances since 2005 due to swelling debt, dwindling revenues and increased spending on salaries, benefits and legal fees.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) has sponsored legislation that would eliminate Vernon’s cityhood and make the area an unincorporated part of Los Angeles County. Pérez also has introduced a companion bill that calls for a new special district overseen by the county to take over some parts of Vernon’s government.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said the city’s debt load might mean that Sacramento efforts to dissolve the scandal-plagued city are “booby trapped” with financial problems “that we would have no capacity to deal with.”

County Chief Executive William T Fujioka will report next week on what the deal might mean for the county and will make a recommendation on whether the county should publicly endorse or oppose Pérez’s plan.

Yaroslavsky urged Fujioka to come out more strongly in opposition or in favor of the legislation and said “it’s a little late to be doing this kind of analysis.”

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