President Barack Obama released his budget just in time for Valentine’s Day, but Napa County officials aren’t feeling the love.
The proposed budget for 2012-’13 lacks money to complete the next phase of the flood control project — a bypass channel in the Oxbow — and could cut dollars for eradicating grapevine pests.
Obama released his $3.8 trillion spending plan Monday. Local officials were hoping to get a $20 million allocation to finish the flood bypass channel in downtown Napa, but have to wait yet another year to get funding.
Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers allocated $1.3 million, but that was for the current fiscal year and only enough to pay for federal supervision of work already underway.
County Supervisor Bill Dodd said the flood project’s absence from Obama’s budget puts additional pressure on county officials as they prepare to travel to Washington, D.C., next month to lobby for local programs and projects, including flood control.
Given the amount of discord among Congressional lawmakers about federal spending, Dodd said the county’s lobbyists have warned them that it could be hectic trip.
“She forewarned us that we’re going to have substantially more appointments,” Dodd said. “We have to show that we have a project that’s two-thirds of the way done. Our taxpayers have paid their share of this thing.”
Dodd said the lack of money in Obama’ budget and last week’s small allocation for current work were disappointing, considering how the Corps of Engineers had praised the flood project’s environmental sensitivity in the past.
“We had a reasonable expectation that the Corps was going to be able to come through for us,” Dodd said. “We have done a significant amount of promotion for the Army Corps.”
County Agricultural Commissioner Dave Whitmer said the president’s budget includes $2.5 million for eradicating the European grapevine moth, which causes significant damage to grapevines. He said another $2.5 million allocation has been requested.
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Another pot of money — $12 million in emergency U.S. Department of Agriculture funds — that could be used to fight the European grapevine moth remains uncommitted, Whitmer said.
Whitmer said he’s written a letter to the Obama administration to advocate for the allocation, saying it’s critical to ensure the pests are successfully eradicated.
“If that $12 million comes through there will be enough,” Whitmer said. “If it doesn’t, then we’re scrambling.”
Whitmer said that money is needed for enforcing the program’s quarantine area in Napa County, as well as trapping moths, treating vines, and inspections. The program has been successful in reducing the number of moths found in the county from 100,000 in 2010 to 113 in 2011.
“This is regarded as one of the most successful pest eradication efforts ever,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer said the county could potentially have the quarantine lifted next year if the program is fully funded.
Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Tony Linegar said parts of his county could be removed from the quarantine by the end of this year, but it also depends on funding. “It’s critical we get that money,” he said.
Whitmer said he wasn’t sure if the budget continued a trend of reducing funding for eradicating the glassy-winged sharpshooter. Last year, federal money for that program was reduced by $2.6 million.
The sharpshooter infests some grape growing areas of California, but has not established itself in Napa County.