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No funds available to help cover costs of desert water stations

May 02, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The county Board of Supervisors was informed Tuesday there is no money in the county budget to help with the placement and maintenance of water stations in the desert to provide refreshment for illegal immigrants crossing the area.

About $87,000 yearly was requested from the county by San Diego-area businessman John Hunter, who in a past appearance before the board said the proposed 400 stations could save lives and save the county as much as $150,000 in medical and related costs.

County Executive Officer Ann Capela told the board Tuesday that the issue of funding the stations was referred to the county Public Health Department, whose director replied via letter that there is no money to be had.

"It is not within the health department's budget to contribute funds to this project," wrote Yvonne Smith, county public health director. "However, this project may qualify for funding through the border health initiative or other grant sources."


Despite the lack of funds, Smith assigned county emergency medical services manager John Pritting to work with Hunter on the matter.

Hunter could not be reached for comment.

In other business, the board:

· approved and accepted the county's general purpose financial statements for the year ended June 30. The statement shows the county's general fund revenues increased about $7.1 million more for fiscal 1999-2000 as compared to the year before, while expenditures only increased $1.5 million for the same time period. The revenue increases reflect an increase in sales and use taxes reflecting increased sales in the Imperial Valley, a moderate increase in the collection of building inspection fees, an increase in interest income and an increase of state government aid, among other increased revenues and decreases in expenditures.

The general fund goes primarily toward public assistance, public protection, health and sanitation and general government.

· approved a $500,000 state grant request to build sidewalks near schools in the communities of Heber, Niland, Seeley and Winterhaven.

· approved a $118,000 state bicycle transportation grant request for the county's master bike plan.

· was informed there will be a ceremony for the opening of Highway 86 in south Riverside County at 10 a.m. May 18. County Public Works Director Tim Jones told the board it took 21 years to complete the highway to Brawley.

· was informed the Imperial Irrigation District's motto for this year's efforts to keep children out of canals and drains is "Be cool, swim in a pool."

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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