In a settlement, Baldwin Park agreed to share with Rosemead the sales tax revenue generated by Laidlaw for 10 years. Rosemead says that since that settlement Baldwin Park has shorted it almost $40,000. The two cities have tried, but have been unable to reach an agreement. Thus a another lawsuit was filed this week. Such litigation between public agencies is on the rise. When you think about the amount of money at stake, compare it to the legal fees incurred by both sides. Attorney fees for similar cases far exceed $100,000. For example, when Covina sued West Covina over Clippinger Chevrolet’s relocation, the attorney fees for West Covina alone were $182,000. The quest for sales tax revenue is expensive. As we watch Rosemead move forward on a lawsuit against Baldwin Park for lost sales tax revenues, it begs the question, “Who will pay the cost of this litigation between public agencies?” Unsurprisingly, the answer is we will. Both sides will use our tax dollars to pay their legal bills. This particular court battle stems from a 2004 judge’s ruling that Baldwin Park illegally used redevelopment funds to lure Laidlaw’s Harley-Davidson away from its 40-year home in Rosemead. In the Laidlaw case, we’re talking about a disagreement involving less than $150,000 in tax revenue over the 10-year life of the settlement. Yet that amount is most likely less than the attorney fees needed to litigate the issue. No matter which side wins, that $150,000 in tax revenue will still belong to the public. The only thing the litigation does is add an obligation that taxpayers cough-up an even larger sum to cover all the public agency attorney fees. When the state collects sales taxes, it rebates a portion to local government, not based upon population, but instead determined by where the tax revenue was generated. Baldwin Park is just one of many public agencies using redevelopment funds to lure big sales tax generators. California’s redevelopment law allows cities to give retailers such as car dealers, Costco, Wal-Mart, even pro sports teams nearly free land and a share of the extra sales tax they will generate. Laidlaw moved to a better location and pocketed the public’s redevelopment funds. Baldwin Park broke the law, but was rewarded with huge, new sales tax revenue. Rosemead’s attorneys and Baldwin Park’s attorneys will all make a pile of money. And the public gets absolutely nothing, except a bill to cover everyone’s costs. In its pamphlet, “Redevelopment: The Unknown Government,” Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform call such redevelopment deals a “tax shell game.” We watch as La Mirada lures a car dealer away from Buena Park, and Buena Park obtains dealerships from Fullerton. And each time the taxpayers pick up the tab for the “economic incentives” and legal expenses in what both cities and developers promote as “public-private partnerships.” Richard P. McKee is a La Verne resident and past president of Californians Aware, an open-government advocacy group. Comment at www.insidesocal.com/editors160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!