States slash TRPA budget
State deficits in California and Nevada have resulted in a decrease of the 2002-03 budget of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency by nearly $470,000.
The $8.8 million budget has no money available to increase the number of employees who work to get Lake Tahoe Basin residents to comply with environmental regulations.
Upgrades to the compliance division is one of many recommendations stated in the 2001 Threshold Evaluation report, an environmental report card released by staff every five years.
The agency originally planned to sink some of the $470,000 into its compliance division and its project review division, which was flooded with applications this spring and summer.
“We were down staffing due to turnover this summer,” said Jerry Wells, TRPA deputy director. “We were able to fill those positions, but we were not able to add to those positions or contract any work to consultants.”
More than 400 applications are backlogged for processing. Eighteen of the applications have exceeded a 120-day project review period the agency is allowed. But TRPA hopes to have staff in the field making inspections all this month before any snow accumulates, Wells said.
“That way we can continue to work on projects over the winter and be ready to go this summer,” he said.
The TRPA, formed and funded by legislatures of both states, receives 61 percent of its annual budget from California and Nevada. The rest of its money is drawn from jurisdictions at the basin, state grants, application fees and fines.
“We had already planned for the cut and prepared for it,” Wells said. “Even though it hurts to lose funding, with organizational changes we can survive the year.”
The agency is more concerned about its efforts to recoup the nearly half a million missing chunk of money when the legislatures craft their budgets for next year.
“We’ve submitted our budgets in both states,” Wells said. “We’re not allowed to request any enhancement to our budget but we’ve asked for the 470 back.”
The agency’s budget for 2001-02 was $9.4 million. For 2003-04, the TRPA is requesting $7.7 million plus the $470,000 missing from the budget this year, according to budget Director Bruce Adams.
In general, the TRPA budget is divided into: 46 percent on salaries and wages, 26 percent on contract services, 17 percent on services and supplies, 10 percent on employee benefits, 1 percent on capital outlay.
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at http://email@example.com
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