Jim Steinberg, Staff Writer
Posted: 05/26/2013 05:34:32 PM PDT
FONTANA — The Fontana Unified School District and two other school systems have sued the city alleging that its now defunct redevelopment agency owes them millions of dollars.
The city denies the allegations.
The issue hinges on what year is the appropriate base year to start paying the school districts from the North Fontana Redevelopment Project’s property tax receipts.
The Chaffey Joint Union High School District and the Rialto Unified School District are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the successor agency of the North Fontana Redevelopment Project District, the city itself, Larry Walker in his capacity as San Bernardino County auditor-controller and San Bernardino County.
The lawsuit was filed last month in Sacramento County Superior Court.
Legal questions involving former redevelopment agencies are directed to that court, said Peter Fagen, the attorney representing the three school districts.
In late 2011, the state Supreme Court upheld a law passed by the Legislature which dissolves that state’s 400-plus redevelopment agencies. The Supreme Court also struck down a law which allowed redevelopment agencies to remain in existence if they opted into a voluntary redevelopment program.
The school districts believe that 1997-1998 should be the base year.
The city is using 2004-2005 as the base year.
“Our consultants tell us we are using the correct year,” Fontana City Manager Ken Hunt said in an interview prior to the lawsuit’s filing. “Their consultants say differently. ”
Both Hunt and Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren declined comment on the issue after the lawsuit was filed.
Using 1997-1998 as base years, the Fontana school district is owed more than $4 million, Chaffey slightly more than $2 million and Rialto more than $200,000, said Don Bertucci, an assistant superintendent for business services with the CJUHSD.
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