Saturday, January 15, 2011

Emphasis on self funding for water, parks, land agencies

The budget proposals for the Arizona State Land Dept, State Parks, and Dept. of Water Resources promote self funding for these natural resource agencies. The Land Dept. will have to find their operating costs from the Trust activities they manage. Water will shift part of their costs to fees from cities that use their services. Parks is promised no more transfers from their internal funds, but also no more state funds. Here is the statement from the Executive Budget Summary, p24:

Continued Emphasis on Self‐Funding
The Executive seeks to emphasize revenue from user fees rather than precious tax dollars

HELP ASSURE FUNDING to protect and conserve the state’s natural resources, while minimizing the tax burden on Arizona families and businesses, the Executive Budget Recommendation continues to expand the use of self‐funding for Arizona’s natural
resource agencies. The Executive seeks to build on a foundation, established in Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 by the Land Department, the State Parks, and the Department of Water Resources, that emphasizes revenue from user fees rather than precious tax dollars.

Land Department. To fund management of the State Land Trust, the Executive Recommendation expands the use of revenue derived from State Land Trust activities. As proposed, this funding approach will all but eliminate General Fund support for the Land Department, while providing enough revenue to keep it functioning at an optimal capacity.

Parks. 23 of Arizona’s 27 state parks are open. Of the 23, 14 are operating with the assistance of local or tribal governments. While this level of service could be sustained with the existing funding arrangements, it is less certain whether the local or tribal governments will be able to continue the current funding. To assure the continued operation of as many parks as possible, the Executive recommends no further fund transfers from Parks.

Water. The Executive Recommendation recognizes that the activities of the Department of Water Resources benefit three main groups: the State, municipalities and specific users. The Executive Recommendation continues the utilization of water user fees to fund to cover specific users. However, the Executive also recommends an additional assessment, levied on Arizona cities, to help ensure adequate long‐term water supplies. The table at right illustrates the agency’s functions. The benefits of these functions are both statewide and municipality‐specific. Therefore, the Executive asserts that these costs should be shared by Arizona’s cities. To that end the Executive proposal would use the new levy to cover the cities’ portions.

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