Nevada calling on feds to pay up for overdue Tahoe fire projects
CARSON CITY, Nev. — The Nevada state Senate on Friday gave final approval to Assembly Joint Resolution 3, which calls on the federal government to pay what they owe to contractors and public fire districts that did work in the wake of the Angora Fire at South Lake Tahoe.
Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said the U.S. Forest Service awarded $21 million for post-fire and rehabilitation projects. But, he said, an audit in 2011 turned up “irregularities” in the handling of those funds and cut off payments.
He said now, four years later, the federal government still owes contractors who worked on those projects in the Tahoe Basin more than $3 million.
Sen. James Settelmeyer, R-Gardnerville, said repeated efforts to resolve the issues including asking for help from Nevada’s congressional delegation but that those contractors still are owed money.
He said one local contractor he knows is owed $19,225.
Two fire districts on the Nevada side of the basin are owed much more. The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District in Incline Village, he said, is owed $635,118, and the Tahoe Douglas Fire Department another $386,440.
“It’s hard to balance your budget when you’ve got that much owed out there,” Settelmeyer said.
Kieckhefer said the resolution is an attempt to get the federal government to resolve the problems and pay what they owe.
“There are a lot of independent contractors out clearing trees and undergrowth and they’re still getting stiffed by the federal government,” he said.