LOS ANGELES (CBS) — California state officials are suing Orange County for $73.5 million in property taxes.

The state Department of Finance and California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott filed suit Thursday in Orange County Superior Court, in an effort to get the county to pay property taxes to schools.

The lawsuit says the county has taken “the extraordinary step of flouting the law and illegally redirecting property tax revenue payments from schools and community colleges to the county’s own general fund.”

Since 1994, Orange County has been getting an extra share of vehicle tax money from the state, to help stabilize its budget after its bankruptcy. Because of its current budget crisis, the state cut off that extra money – all $48 million of it — so Orange County is now refusing to forward its usual share of property tax money that goes into the state treasury.

“The state is basically saying that the county didn’t get its way with the car tax money last year in the capitol so it chose another way to get this money from the state, and the county says its just taking what is due to them,” Sacramento Bee reporter Kevin Yamamura told KNX 1070.

The $48 million that the state redirected was paid out to counties for new responsibilities inherited from the state, such as housing low-level prisoners and overseeing parolees, according to the Bee.

The $73.5 million in property taxes was earmarked to fund K-12 schools and community colleges.


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