Gov. axes funding for bug station move |

Gov. axes funding for bug station move

As California finally passed an amended budget for the current fiscal year, one item left on the cutting room floor was the funding to move the state Agricultural Inspection Station at Truckee.

Assistant Director for the state Department of Finance H.D. Palmer said $655,000 to begin the relocation process – primarily for drawings and preliminary plans – was cut from the state’s budget, which was approved by Gov. Pete Wilson last week. The cut was necessary to enable the state to pay a court-ordered $1.2 billion back into the Public Employment Retirement System, Palmer said.

In the early 1990s, legislation was enacted that changed the state’s contribution schedule into PERS from quarterly to annually in arrears, Palmer said. A court ruling, however, found the new contribution schedule was not legal and ordered the state to repay $1.2 billion, he said.

“In order to deal with (that payment), the governor and the legislature has to forego a lot of priorities,” Palmer said. “This (the bug station) was one of those items that had to be foregone in this budget because of the court order to pay PERS.”

But the bug station relocation budget was not the funding left from the current budget. Palmer said just about every area of government saw a similar decrease in funding to offset the PERS payment except educational funding for grades K-12.

Truckee Community Development Director Tony Lashbrook said he is hopeful the budget cut is a minor delay in relocating the bug station to a location east of the Interstate 80-Highway 89 North intersection near the California Highway Patrol scales at Airport Flats.

“Our hope is that this is only a one-year delay and (the state) will pick up the budget process where it left off,” he said.

Preliminary studies by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, operators of the station on Interstate 80, show that between 20 and 40 percent of traffic passing through the station is local. Town officials have supported the proposed relocation because local drivers often attempt to bypass the bug station by driving on Donner Pass Road and Highway 89.

Costs for moving the station have been estimated between $3 and $8 million, which the state is responsible for paying should the station be moved. The relocation project will cost the town nothing.

CDFA officials in December 1996 said relocation efforts were being pursued for two reasons: the station’s age (it is 30 years old) and it stops more traffic than it needs to at the present location – some 30,000 vehicles on a busy day.

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