BY DUG BEGLEY
STAFF WRITER
dbegley@pe.com

Published: 27 March 2012 07:49 PM

Four Riverside County cities that took a financial hit in last year’s state budget might get a helping hand from the county, supervisors said Tuesday. But California lawmakers need to solve the problem they created, supervisors added.

Menifee, Wildomar, Eastvale and Jurupa Valley all face fiscal challenges as a result of the state budget passed last summer. The four cities lost $15 million, part of $200 million in vehicle-license fee revenue that the state redirected to pay for local law-enforcement grants.

All cities lost money, but the four took a disproportionate hit because, as new cities, they received a larger share of the license-fee revenue — and relied on it more — to help them get established

Supervisors have said they will help the cities in any way they responsibly can to bridge the gap. But on Tuesday, they postponed a decision that would have allowed Wildomar and Menifee to defer payments owed to the county. Their hope is that state legislators will restore the vehicle fees, making the deferments unnecessary.

The four new cities each owe Riverside County for services the county provided shortly after incorporation, known as the transition year. Road repairs and other services continue to be done by the county while the city gets on its feet, then the city repays the county.

Supervisor John Tavaglione said he supports deferring the transition-year payments but said he did not want to send a mixed message to California lawmakers who might think the county could take care of the cities’ budget problems.

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