Ar­rests won’t end city’s trou­bles

Bell could be headed to re­ceiver­ship even as re­funds of il­le­gal taxes drain its bud­get.

Los Angeles Times - - Front Page - Kim Chris­tensen and Rong-Gong Lin II

The ar­rests of most of Bell’s elected lead­ers Tues­day brought cheers and danc­ing in the streets in the small, work­ing-class city, but added to the al­ready deep un­cer­tainty about its fu­ture.

With four of Bell’s five City Coun­cil mem­bers fac­ing cor­rup­tion charges, the Los An­ge­les County Board of Su­per­vi­sors voted to push for a court or­der to seize author­ity from them and turn day-to-day man­age­ment over to an ap­pointed re­ceiver.

Run for nearly two decades un­der the tight con­trol of City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Robert Rizzo, who was among those charged Tues­day, Bell now faces a pos­si­ble re­call elec­tion and an ef­fort by state Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown to try to re­move most of the city’s elected of­fi­cials from of­fice.

In ad­di­tion, the longterm fi­nan­cial out­look for the city of 39,000 south­east of down­town Los An­ge­les is murky: The state con­troller’s of­fice has found that Bell col­lected about $5.6 mil­lion in il­le­gally im­posed tax in­creases and busi­ness-li­cense fees — and now must re­fund an amount equal to more than one-third of its $13.5-mil­lion gen­eral fund. As city of­fi­cials work on plans to re­fund the money, they also must find a way to bal­ance the bud­get to ad­just for the loss of the il­le­gal tax rev­enue. That could mean cut­ting jobs or ser­vices, or rais­ing rev­enue through bonds.

The lat­ter op­tion be­came less vi­able Tues­day when a Wall Street rat­ing firm cast new doubt on Bell’s abil­ity to pay its ex­ist­ing debts, in-

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