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State Controller John Chiang on Thursday sent a letter to the city manager of Bell informing him that the city has been been gauging more than 1,000 business owners in the community when it comes to taxes, which Chiang said have increased 50 percent since the year 2000.

He said that the increases went against state law because they were not approved by the city's voters. The letter, obtained by the Weekly, states that the businesses were overtaxed by about $2.1 million.

Chiang tells the city manager, Pedro Carrillo, that Bell needs to figure out a way to refund the cash.

The legislature this week passed a law that will return to Bell landlords another $3 million in property taxes they were overcharged by the scandal-plagued city.

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