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RUNNER PROPOSES MTA DEAL; FUND CONTROL TARGETED.

Byline: Jim Skeen Daily News Staff Writer

A compromise may have been reached in the simmering dispute between Los Angeles County cities and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority over the agency's use of state aid the cities think is rightfully theirs.

The compromise in a proposed state bill calls for the MTA to withdraw its objections to legislation that would guarantee the cities a share of State Transportation Improvement Plan money in return for amending that legislation to reduce the cities' share from 50 percent to between 10 percent and 25 percent.

``Sometimes, you have to be satisfied with half a pie instead of a whole pie,'' said Assemblyman George Runner, R-Lancaster, the bill's author. ``That's more than what they (the cities) are getting now.''

Fed up with the MTA's neglect of their needs, local officials from Lancaster to Long Beach for months have demanded what they call a fairer share of transit dollars or threatened to work to break up the agency.

The Runner bill was the result of an MTA board decision to take $207 million of the county's $746 million in new STIP money to finish the North Hollywood Red Line subway extension.

Officials for cities throughout the county say the subway construction has eaten away at bus service and delayed highway improvements.

Under the compromise, the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale would receive annually between $250,000 to $750,000 each, and Santa Clarita, which is slightly larger, would get $300,000 to $800,000, depending on the percentage that is ultimately adopted.

The money would start coming after the year 2000.

``It was a compromise that neither side is necessarily happy with, but we'll get along with it,'' said Jeff Long, Lancaster's Department of Public Works director, who was in on the negotiations. ``It's not that we lost money by settling. We didn't have anything. We had zero.''

Runner's bill was scheduled to go to the Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday, but it will probably be delayed a week to amend the bill.

``We are very pleased Mr. Runner has accepted the MTA board's suggestions,'' said authority spokesman Ed Scannell. ``Once the bill is amended, we will be able to support it.''

Exactly what percentage the cities will get will be determined by a committee made up of MTA staff and board members, and representatives of the city. A proposal on the exact percentage must be before the MTA board by March 31, 1999.

In addition to determining the percentage allocated to the cities, the committee would also determine how the funds will be distributed. Lancaster officials are seeking to have the funds distributed based on population.

``The idea is to get monies for transportation projects closer to the people paying for these projects - the taxpayers. The cities are closer to what their needs are than the MTA establishment,'' Runner said.

MTA interim Chief Executive Officer Julian Burke in the past defended the decision to put the STIP money into the North Hollywood subway, saying the project is a large regional investment that needs to be completed on time and under budget, as a demonstration to the state and federal governments that the agency can deliver on its promises.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 11, 1998
Words:533
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