Relief for police agencies, agriculture

none for cities

July 25, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Local law enforcement and agriculture are the only winners in the state budget awaiting the governor's signature.

The county Sheriff's Office is expecting $500,000 in ongoing grants through the state Office of Criminal Justice Planning, according to Sheriff Harold Carter.

"Basically, it's spending to improve law-enforcement services," he said, adding the money may be used at his discretion on those items he deems most needed, such as to hire personnel and emergency communications. "There's certainly no lack of need."

Carter said the money — intended for all small counties in the state — originated in the Assembly's version of the budget, and passed through the Senate with little change. He said the money will be available yearly.


"It's certainly a welcome addition to budgets that are short," Carter said. "We're excited about it."

The $101 billion budget is reportedly on the governor's desk, and he has line item veto authority, where he can delete budget items.

Bob Ham, spokesman for Assemblyman Dave Kelley, said the budget includes as much as $30,000 in grants for each local city's police department for high-technology law enforcement assistance. He suggested the cities pool the money and use it to help the Imperial Irrigation District upgrade its radio system, which would then be used by the cities and county for emergency communications.

Ham said there is money available to rural counties via competitive grants for mass transit.

Meanwhile, it is uncertain how much money, if any, is in the budget for the Imperial Valley's cities.

It does not appear there is any money in the budget slated for the city of Calexico. While the city had hoped to get $750,000 for Nosotros Park, that did not come through.

"I don't think there's any relief for us at all in this budget," said Calexico City Manager Rich Inman.

Abdel Salem, El Centro city manager, said he has not heard of any money for the city, though the city had sought $280,000 for playground equipment.

"I'm told that was not included in the budget," Salem said, adding the city is awaiting an analysis of the budget by the League of Cities.

Brawley City Manager Jerry Santillan said there is no money for Brawley, either.

"Not that I know of," he said, adding the city usually knows about any moneys it might receive because city staff tracks the requests.

Likewise, there is not any money for the Salton Sea Authority.

Tom Kirk, SSA executive director, said with the Legislature spending so much time on the energy crisis, funding is not available as before.

Separately, however, Senate Bill 739 includes about $160 million in statewide grants for energy-conservation measures by farmers, food processors, cold-storage facility operators, irrigation districts, dairies, greenhouse operators and any other agricultural enterprise using electricity during peak-load periods.

Money designated includes:

l $70 million to reduce peak power load usage, encourage bio-gas digestion power production technologies, enhance energy conservation and encourage the use of alternate fuels.

l $40 million for the purchase and installation of high-efficiency electrical agricultural equipment and other equipment or any facility installed to achieve peak period electricity reduction. Projects installed on or after Jan. 1, 2001 can qualify for funding. Eligible projects include: refrigeration and other cold storage equipment, pumps and premium motors and automated control systems.

l $15 million for retrofitting existing natural gas-powered equipment to burn alternate fuels.

l $15 million for development of bio-gas digestion power production technologies.

l $10 million for the purchase and installation of advance metering and telemetry equipment for agricultural and water-pumping customers to improve electrical load management and demand responsiveness techniques.

l $10 million for efficiency testing of existing ag water pumps and to provide incentives for the retrofitting of pumps.

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