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Bell lowers property tax; FBI probes Maywood

August 17, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Bell City Council unanimously voted to lower its property taxes after a lengthy, heated meeting that lasted into Tuesday morning.The meeting ran almost nine hours, much of it devoted to angry commentary from outraged residents.

Meanwhile, reports have emerged of an FBI investigation into a top city official in a neighboring city, Maywood.

Bell's council meeting last night took on a circus like atmosphere. The dysfunction hit a high note when a man in a clown suit began doing stand-up comedy.

For five hours, outraged residents took to the podium and berated the council and demanded their resignation.

"You guys have made Bell the epicenter of corruption," said one angry resident.

But after the outbursts and heated exchanges, the council went into closed session and approved several agenda items.

They voted unanimously to lower property taxes. The decision came after a state audit revealed that residents had been overcharged by $3 million as a way to pay for the exorbitant salaries and pensions of top city officials.

That means residents who own a home worth $400,000 will save about $360 a year.

Amidst the controversy, sources tell the Los Angeles Times that the FBI is investigating two deals between the city and Maywood Councilman Felipe Aguirre.

One of the probes reportedly centers on a $95,000 grant that Aguirre received to refurbish the facade of a business.

Aguirre's office did not respond to requests for an interview, but he told the Times, "Do I wish it happened? No. Should I have talked to someone else and gotten better advice? Probably. But it happened and I can't take it back and I can't say it didn't happen."

A lot of the specifics about that probe are still unclear.


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