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Ex-Bell leaders allegedly squandered millions in bonds

April 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Seven years ago, residents of the city of Bell approved a $70-million bond proposal to build much needed public facilities, including a library, safety center and new civic center.

A dusty vacant lot was supposed to become the location for a new sports complex.

But those projects have all but dissolved due to the actions of the former city leaders.

The former City Council spent all but $23.5 million of $50 million worth of bonds sold and there is little to show for it.

"The money's not there anymore," said Bell Councilman Nestor Valencia. "As I understand, $50 million has been pulled of which we have less than $20 million in the bank, in a non-interest bearing account."

More than $1 million in bond money went to building a new skateboard park and $2 million was spent to improve Veterans Memorial Park.

The nearly insolvent city now has to pay interest on the more than $20 million remaining in bond debt.

"It's scary. That's our main problem. It's the bond debt that's going to be the city's albatross, I'm afraid," said Councilman Danny Harfer.

The sports complex that was supposed to be built will likely never materialize and city officials have not found plans in existence for the other promised projects.