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County, cities ending dispute over property tax administration fee
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Stanislaus County and eight cities are nearing a final joint settlement agreement over the way the county calculates a fee for collecting and allocating property tax revenues pursuant to the Revenue and Taxation Code.

Officials have agreed on a settlement and the agreement will be official after each city signs the settlement agreement which is expected within the next 30 days.

Cities agreeing to the resolution include Ceres, Hughson, Modesto, Oakdale, Patterson, Riverbank, Turlock and Waterford. The ability of the county and cities to successfully work together and find a common agreement benefits the public by avoiding a potentially lengthy and costly publicly financed legal battle, said new county CEO Stan Risen. The county continues to work with Newman to resolve the dispute as they are not participating in the joint agreement.

The California Supreme Court made a decision in November 2012 in the City of Alhambra, et al. v. County of Los Angeles case that held that a complex calculation used by counties to charge for property tax administration fees resulted in counties overcharging for this service. As a result, Stanislaus County cities claimed the county should stop collection of the disputed administration fee and reimburse cities for a portion of previous years' fees. The county disputed the reimbursement request, however, the county stopped collection during the 2012-13 budget year.

Through the agreement, Stanislaus County will pay a total of $2.870 million back to local cities. The county has already paid back $410,630 in May, leaving a balance of $2.46 million. The balance of these funds will be distributed by lump sum payments to each city within 30 days of their signed settlement agreement or within 30 days of their dismissing their lawsuit against the county.

Based on when a city preserved their rights, the settlement agreement will include 3 ½ - 4 ½ years of back payments.

Ceres is due total payback of $360,447 but was paid back $80,381 in May.

The city of Hughson is due $37,856.