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County to Transfer $1.2 Mil in Unclaimed Sewer Project Refunds

The county project was never built, and with some of the money going unclaimed, it now reverts to the city.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.
From the city of Malibu:

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky and the City of Malibu announced today that nearly $1.2 million in unclaimed refunds from the proposed county sewer project that ultimately led to the City's incorporation will be returned to the City.

The transfer follows an extensive search by the County Treasurer and Tax Collector's (TTC) office to locate property owners from the early 1990s who paid into an assessment district for the sewer project that was stopped before it began.

TTC reported to the Board of Supervisors that its office had completed its Malibu County Improvement Bond Refund Project with over 3700 refunds totaling $4.1 million returned to property owners.

TTC then endeavored on a process required by the California Government Code (Sections 50050 to 50057) in a final attempt to locate the remaining property owners. The process involved posting a list of parcel addresses, owners of record and refund amounts on the TTC website and in advertisements placed in local Malibu newspapers.

Three hundred and thirty eight claims were received by the deadline of Dec. 21, 2009.Validated claims were paid, leaving $1,171,223 in unclaimed funds that will be transferred from the County General Fund to the City.

“I want to commend our County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s largely successful efforts in trying to locate and repay those property owners who originally paid into the sewer construction fund,” Supervisor Yaroslavsky said. “Returning the unclaimed balance of funds to the City for the current wastewater treatment project is the right thing to do, and ensures that the money will be used for its original purpose of addressing the water-quality needs of the people of Malibu.”

The County sewer project was a significant moment in the young City's history. In June 1989, the Board of Supervisors approved construction of a regional sewer system for then unincorporated Malibu, with the project to be funded by County Improvement Bonds. The bonds would be paid for by the benefiting property owners through the establishment of an assessment district. However, local residents feared that the $86 million sewer system would result in expansive development. The Malibu community eventually succeeded in incorporating as a new City and the County ceased work on the preliminary design of the proposed regional system.

“We commend the County for its diligence in trying to locate every contributing property owner from nearly 30 years ago,” stated Malibu Mayor Skylar Peak, “and the residents of Malibu appreciate having these unclaimed funds returned to the City so we can complete the design of our wastewater treatment facility in the Civic Center area that will ultimately ensure Malibu Creek and the Lagoon remain clean for everyone to enjoy.”

The transferred funds will be utilized by the City to complete the design for the Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Facility, which will treat, reuse, and/or dispose of wastewater flows from properties in the Civic Center area. 
Jamie Ottilie May 06, 2014 at 06:35 PM
Wouldn't the right thing to do be to return those tax dollars to the homeowners who paid the assessment and never got the sewer? I don't see how giving the money tot he city makes it 'right'.

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