JURUPA VALLEY, Calif. -- California's youngest city on Thursday moved closer to disbanding over financial troubles after the state shifted crucial revenue away from municipal coffers.
In a unanimous vote, the Jurupa Valley City Council authorized officials to start the disincorporation process, which would make the city of 97,000 people east of Los Angeles the first to disband in California in four decades.
Local officials have pleaded with state lawmakers to restore roughly $5.5 million a year in revenue to the city. But they say they no longer can wait to consider beginning the disincorporation process as Jurupa Valley - a diverse cluster of communities ranging from suburban housing tracts to trail-lined equestrian neighborhoods - could run out of cash in July 2015.
"It's highly disappointing that we would be put into a circumstance like this when it could be so easily solved," Councilman Verne Lauritzen said Thursday, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Days before the city incorporated in 2011, California lawmakers shifted motor vehicle license fee revenue away from cities to pay for a statewide prison overhaul. The move affected all cities but especially Jurupa Valley and three other newly formed Riverside County municipalities, which relied on different state funding than older cities.
Since then, Jurupa Valley officials say the city has missed out on roughly $18 million in funding. The city has been running like a startup, using donated furniture and computers and hiring staff via a contracting agency to avoid incurring pension and other costs.
Officials estimate the disincorporation process could take up to 18 months. A public hearing would be held, and residents would need to vote on whether to revert back to county control.
The city formed in 2011 to give residents a greater voice in development decisions and preserve horse-friendly neighborhoods. On the main thoroughfare, residents can buy goods ranging from supermarket food and pizza to hay and feed.
Earlier this week, Gov. Jerry Brown said he would look at the problem plaguing the four cities but could not immediately commit to a solution, the Press-Enterprise reported. Brown's comments came after a meeting with county officials who asked for a fix for the cities in the state budget.