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Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Harbor Dredge to Begin without Federal Funds

There's a story over at EdHat about the City of Santa Barbara's plans to dredge the harbor over the month of November. Interestingly enough, the Waterfront Department actually doesn't technically have money for it yet as the federal budget hasn't been passed.

The $1.98 million is in the President's budget and can still be spent because of something called the Continuing Resolution process (which is so important it needs to be capitalized). Basically, if you received funding last year -- you can go ahead and spend it this year until and unless they tell you not to. With rules like that, who needs a budget?

It would be interesting if the government would let taxpayers use this budgetary maneuver: "Sorry, I can't pay my taxes on April 15th because my spouse hasn't approved our household budget yet. I'm invoking the Continuing Resolution process until we have time to update our Quicken file -- I'll pay you then but I'm not sure when I'll get to it".

27 Comments:

Anonymous Reading Comprehension, Deficit Spending Edition said...

The story at EdHat was a press release from the City Waterfront Department.

The opening line is "Federal dredge operations for Santa Barbara Harbor are underway" with an emphasis on the word FEDERAL.
This means the Waterfront Department does not need the money because the work is being paid directly by the Federal Corps of Engineers.

Continuing Resolutions do not authorize everything in federal spending, but big things that cannot be delayed usually go forward. A CR really is a budget approval but just without any thinking about it.

The more time that goes by with spending legally authorized under the CR process, the less the final annual budget really means because the next one is due all the sooner.

At least this is not as bad as how the Bush Administration paid for the Iraq War in the first few years, through a budgetary trick called a Supplemental. That means a huge dose of spending was approved with NO place on the income side of the ledger to show where the money comes from. As a result, the money actually came from China with a nice interest fee added.

11/01/2007 6:27 AM  
Anonymous Buffalo said...

Now here is a worthwhile and interesting story.

You made a good point, Sara, and I agree with you.

Keep up your good work.

11/01/2007 7:20 AM  
Anonymous Betsy said...

This was reported by Waterfront Director John Bridley to the last Harbor Commission, October 18, Harbor Commission meeting. (The agenda and staff reports are online here.)

It was the first agenda item and as a result of a meeting the Waterfront Director had with various harbor/waterfront representatives: "Currently, the federal government is operating without an adopted budget for FY 2008. This is the second year in a row that the federal government has missed its budget deadline. Efforts are underway to complete this effort without the need for an Omnibus Spending Plan. Typically, the federal budget is approved and in place by October 1st of each year. The good news for Santa Barbara harbor is that the President’s Budget did include $1.94 million in maintenance dredge funds for FY 2008 and because we also received funding last fiscal year, we can continue operations even without a final budget. Dredging operations for the main channel should begin around November 1st."

Dredging the harbor is a time-sensitive issue, of course. There's no predicting the quantity/quality of winter storms. If the harbor is not dredged before those storms, sand fill-in would be worse, cutting egress and access.

I don't know why they announced now except probably there was public interest in the dredging, and the press had not picked up on the several weeks' earlier report. All-in-all, it would definitely seem to be worth the (low-risk) gamble on getting the funding.

11/01/2007 9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, reading comprehension. The Waterfront Department NEVER directly gets any Federal funds to dredge the Harbor; it all goes from the Army Corps of Engineers to the dredge contractor. Its pretty common for the fall dredging cycle to start before the Fed passes its budget.

11/01/2007 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let the Rich Slip people pay for their own dredging!

The government could use that money for health care or fighting Global Warming!

11/01/2007 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noreiga said...

Could we get Lois Capps in on this? Her bunch is in power; she represents us; the budget isn't done yet; and we're operating under continuing resolutions which is proof we have asses in Congress.

I don't think you can lay this one on Bush. (oh...just bluffing here; I know one of you will find a way.)

I'd like to bring up code-pink but won't. I have seen the play MEDEA and know how it ends!

11/01/2007 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

20 yeaers ago the city waterfront department purchased and owned their own dredge. I thgink they paid something like $1,000,000 for it and my recollectiuon is that they sold it for something like only $150,000 after dredging the harbor themselves for a few years at a modest cost. the city figured if they sold it then they could get the armu corps of engineers toi pay for the dredging.

Since then the city hires a private company to do the dredging at a exorbinant cost of something like $2,000,000 or $4,000,000 per year. The city doesn't care about the exorbinant cost to the taxpayers, as long as the city itself doesn't have to pay for it. A dredge could probably be purchased by the city for the cost of what they pay now for one years dredging.

The city could purchase a dredge of its own and dredge the harbot at a timy fraction of the current cost. But why should they care about being efficient and frugal as long as the taxpayers are paying for it with federal funds coming through the corps of engineers.

Someone should lobby the federal government to stop paying for this wastefull dredging procedure and that would force the city to buy it's own dredge and do it in house in an economical and fiscally prudent manner.

11/01/2007 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we have to sell our soul for these federal dollars the way the city council sold our soul for some paltry HUD money - ran neighborhoods and our zoning ordiance right into the ground in order to get federal money pay for a few feel good non-profits CEO's to encourage more the homeless to find a home here.

11/01/2007 6:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Waterfront has been mismanaging its budget for years. We should privatize the whole department. Let professionals run the harbor and not bureaucrats!

11/01/2007 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we have to sell our soul for these federal dollars the way the city council sold our soul for some paltry HUD money - ran neighborhoods and our zoning ordiance right into the ground in order to get federal money pay for a few feel good non-profits CEO's to encourage more the homeless to find a home here.

Jeez, you people have a one track mind - although where that track leads is anyone's guess. Personally, I'm guessing it's somewhere between Crazytown and Nuttyville.

11/01/2007 6:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edhat posted a story that the City is building new slips. Where is all this money coming from?

11/01/2007 6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People in Crazytown and Nuttyville vote. Stay tuned.

11/01/2007 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People in Crazytown and Nuttyville vote. Stay tuned.

Well at least you admit it.

Oh, and is this the part where to you tell me that candidates endorsed by the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors are the "anti-development" candidates?

Or how about that power endorsement by Joe Guzzardi? Whoa, doggy, that's certainly going to turn the tide.

"[We're] going off the rails on a crazy train."

11/02/2007 8:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How many slips are the city going to make "affordable" since so many people live on their boats.

Sounds like it should be one out of two to keep things fair with what the city is doing to those who live on land.

11/02/2007 9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to anon 7:21pm
Yes, idiot's and moron's can vote

11/02/2007 10:05 AM  
Anonymous donaldo de Santa Barbara said...

don jose de la guerra y noreiga >>>>

If Bush doesn't use the veto pen then of course we could blame it on him. But it wouldn't be fair to blame this on Capps or "Her bunch." Besides this budgetary scheme isn't exactly a Republican "bridge to nowhere" pork barrel spending project.

I'll take you on with your challenge. I always like to blame Republicans for just about everything. There are those Reagan-Gingrich types with their failed "Contract" On America along with others in their "bunch" who would want to "reduce government so you could drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." Their policies are antithetic to the purpose of government so of course they're the ones screwing things up.

Wasn't it the Great Quipper Ronald Regan who in his presidency included homeless veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the genre of other mentally ill street people and called them all "unhappy campers?" The U.S., in team spirit has trivialized just about every social issue since. If you always find a "bunch" (really a minority) to scapegoat then you don't have to accept your national responsibilities. I know, it is so much easier to find a "bunch" to blame. I do that myself but usually I look to how the majority is operating rather than the minority. Even though the Democratic "bunch" is in power they are still in that majority group that is "compassionate" and "conservative."

It is the Republicans who in their determination to greedily profit that have developed these twisted budgetary schemes that SDLG has illuminated in this post. It is the conservative funding schemes that have changed local government to become competitive bidding corporations that outsource everything from harbor dredging to streetlight lamp replacement. A middle man is efficiently profiting somewhere but probably not really doing anything productive except hiring illegals for a lower wage to do the real work.

Wouldn't it be nice to have Joe Armendariz of the SBCTA and SBIA chime in on this subject?

11/02/2007 10:15 AM  
Anonymous H. R. PUFNSTUF, Mayor of Living Island said...

Insofar as the dredge is an non contested issue, what is the point? As mayor of a similarly situated resort community (Living Island) I am sympathetic to your problems. But I suggest that you concentrate on real threats, like large birds and insects that could potentially eat tourists, as well as the localized practice of sorcery and witchcraft.

Santa Barbara should consider dismissing the entire council and appointing someone compassionate to a Mayor like position, but with dictatorial powers. This has worked well for Living Island.

This would solve alot of legislative issues while giving all of you something to continue complaining about. The voters of Crazytown and Nuttyville would undoubtedly be satisfied with this result as they wouldnt have to waste their precious complaining time voting.

I am considering sending Officers Kling and Klang to Santa barbara to help you. I am offering my own services as well. As you may know, I personally intervened when an evil witch kidnapped a potential visitor to Living Island as has been documented thoroughly on the popular television series that carried my name.

Sincerely,
(Mayor) H. R. Pufnstuf
Living Island

PS: Can't do a little if you can't do enough!

11/02/2007 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noreiga said...

Wow Donaldo! Glad to have given you such a great opportunity to rant! No doubt you've got a little bias going there. What's your position on critters?

I am an equal opportunity negative force on this issue--a plague on Democrats and Republicans in Congress who feel free to operate the country without the effort to pass a budget. I only brought up poor Mrs Capps up because she represents our over gerrymandered coastal strip. Talk about blue lines following hightide lines!

11/02/2007 7:13 PM  
Anonymous civics 101 student said...

First off, as far as because of something called the Continuing Resolution process (which is so important it needs to be capitalized), it's called the Continuing Resolution Authority and is capitalized because that's the name of the law that the Congress passes and the President signs. I generally hear it simply called the CRA.

In the absence of an approved budget for the fiscal year, the CRA gives the Federal Government the authority to continue spending at the same level as the previous year and to spend prudently.

In the absence of either an approved budget or a CRA, the Federal Government has no authority to spend money when the new fiscal year begins on October 1st. No federal employee, civilian or military, would be allowed to go to work in the new fiscal year since the government would have no authority to pay them. An exception has been made for those few individuals who have been identified as working in essential functions that would have a direct effect on health or safety. Contractors would not be paid and in our county, with Vandenberg as probably the largest user of contractors to the government, that would hurt a lot of people in North County.

For the military, that would mean most service members could not be allowed to report to duty that day or to be paid and almost all civilian functions would be shut down. When Gingrich was the House Majority Leader, he played hardball by hanging an anti-abortion rider on the appropriations bill that caused a deadlock in Congress. Many refused to pass either an appropriations bill or a CRA and the government was shut down for a day. This stunt backfired on the Republicans and it was never tried again.

Earlier I mentioned the agency had to spend prudently. You have to spend prudently because no one knows how much money will eventually be authorized for any agency in the government. For example, if the Army Corps of Engineers budget for the new year is significantly reduced and dredging funds were drastically cut, the Corps of Engineers could suddenly find themselves in violation of the appropriations law that provided the dredging funds. At an extreme, the head of the Army Corps of Engineers would be criminally liable for this violation -- a position no agency head would want. So the CRA isn't such a trivial thing or a budget trick as you would imply.

Then, With rules like that, who needs a budget?, note, this only gives you the authority to spend at last year's level. In the past CRAs have been known to be carried through a large part of the fiscal year. However, since no changes to a program are allowed and more importantly, no increases are allowed. If a pay increase had been budgeted for soldiers, they won't get one. There would be no new federal research grants at UCSB . Remember the havoc caused when the school district found a huge budget shortfall and then suddenly "unfound" that shortfall, something that resulted in teachers getting laid off, programs cut and then getting unlaid-off and then uncut? Kind of a waste of money going through that in my opinion. The same thing could happen throughout the government if we have to mess around with the CRA process.

11/03/2007 4:05 PM  
Anonymous civics 101 student said...

Reading Comprehension, Deficit Spending Edition said...

Continuing Resolutions do not authorize everything in federal spending, but big things that cannot be delayed usually go forward. A CR really is a budget approval but just without any thinking about it.

Not quite true. Strictly speaking, it's not a budget but an authority granted by the legislative branch for the executive branch to draw on the Treasury of the United States spend money. It's not only the big things but it's really most agencies are allowed to continue operating. That means you can pay your copy machine bills and pay your people to show up at work

At least this is not as bad as how the Bush Administration paid for the Iraq War in the first few years, through a budgetary trick called a Supplemental. That means a huge dose of spending was approved with NO place on the income side of the ledger to show where the money comes from. As a result, the money actually came from China with a nice interest fee added

When putting together the budget, the Office of Management and Budget has projections of the government's income and uses that to establish the forecasted spending levels throughout the governement. I don't see the Supplemental process as a way of getting around the projected income of the government at all. A budget is basically a forecast of your spending plan for the year. Partly because of our system of checks and balances, it takes a couple of years for a budget to go through the approval process and since it's only an estimate, the Supplemental allows you to make changes in the budget during the year that you're executing to accommodate fact-of-life changes that happen. I don't see the Supplemental process as a budget trick as much as I see the Bush Administration using the Supplemental process in a tricky way. By not including the war in the regular budget of the Defense Department, they treated it as a "short term" fact-of-life change and thereby got around the normal budgetary process. That meant the Army didn't have to include it as part of their regular annual budget. But also, because of the nature of a war, it's really difficult to precisely project what your exact costs for the next year will be.

11/03/2007 4:46 PM  
Anonymous civics 101 student said...

Don Jose de la Guerra y Noreiga said...

Could we get Lois Capps in on this? Her bunch is in power; she represents us; the budget isn't done yet; and we're operating under continuing resolutions which is proof we have asses in Congress.

I don't think you can lay this one on Bush. (oh...just bluffing here; I know one of you will find a way).


As far as her bunch is in power, I'd like to know how many times in the past thirty or forty years that we've begun the fiscal year without a continuing resolution. It really doesn't matter who's in power, as long as there are disagreements, this is what we get. As far as laying this on any president, just what do you think a veto does? Didn't he just veto a funding bill that had support from both parties on both sides of the Congress? Again, it doesn't really matter who we've had for president, we've begun fiscal years under a continuing resolution a lot more often than we've begun the year with a budget in place. If this year's continuing resolution is, as you say, proof we have asses in Congress then I would think we've had asses in Congress ever since we began using the continuing resolutions.

I'm not sure you have a good understanding of the budget process, it's a lot more complex than I think you think it is. It's based on the Constitution written by our founding fathers to include a system of checks and balances. In my Civics 101 class, I'm told checks and balances are a good thing.

11/03/2007 5:06 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Civics 101 -- please know I was being a bit fictitious when I wrote the post. Of course, you can't over spend and I am casually pointing to tricks with defense spending that can't be explained well. Thank you for doing so eloquently.

Yes, CRA's are common but shouldn't we expect our legislators to create a budget on time? Wishful thinking I suppose....

11/03/2007 5:40 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

I don't think you can lay this one on Bush. (oh...just bluffing here; I know one of you will find a way.)

Yeah, it's such a stretch to suppose that Bush has veto power:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/17/AR2007061700942.html

That constitutes a veto onslaught of historic proportions from a president who did not reject a single bill during his first term. Of the 12 appropriations bills for fiscal 2008, only three will be signed by the president in the form shaped by the House.

And it's such a stretch to suppose that Republicans in the Senate are filibustering three times as many bills as any time in history:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/18218.html

Seven months into the current two-year term, the Senate has held 42 "cloture" votes aimed at shutting off extended debate — filibusters, or sometimes only the threat of one — and moving to up-or-down votes on contested legislation. Under Senate rules that protect a minority's right to debate, these votes require a 60-vote supermajority in the 100-member Senate.

Democrats have trouble mustering 60 votes; they've fallen short 22 times so far this year. That's largely why they haven't been able to deliver on their campaign promises.

11/06/2007 11:58 PM  
Anonymous civics 101 student said...

jqb said...
Yeah, it's such a stretch to suppose that Bush has veto power,

I glanced at your link to the Washington Post and saw that Bush plans to veto the homeland security appropriations bill nearing final passage, followed by vetoes of eight more money bills sent him by the Democratic-controlled Congress.

and then Don Jose de la Guerra y Noreiga said...

I don't think you can lay this one on Bush. (oh...just bluffing here; I know one of you will find a way.)

DJdlGyN doesn't seem to get it. I don't think you had to do much to lay this one on Bush. Bush really laid this one on himself and it sounds like all you had to do was pay minimal attention to what's going on. So jwb, I'm not giving you much credit for laying this one on Bush because I don't think it took much work to bring out the obvious.

If only DJdlGyN could do a minimal amount of work to find out what's going on instead of just getting on a pedestal and going on a rant. Oh well, don't confuse him with facts, his mind is made up.

As far as Sara De la Guerra expecting our legislators to get an appropriations bill out on time, it's pretty tough when there is so much conflict between the two parties and then you've got this yahoo in the White House who vetoes everything. So it's not all the fault of the legislative branch and in fact, many of the contentious CRAs were passed because of the stand-off between the Congress and the White House over passing appropriations bills.

I still think of Newt hanging the defense appropriations bills over abortion funding. What does abortion have to do with fighting wars? Maybe because the draft-dodging Newt wanted other people to have children who could get drafted and then he wouldn't have had to serve.

11/07/2007 10:42 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

I'm not giving you much credit for laying this one on Bush because I don't think it took much work to bring out the obvious

Yes, that was my point with my "it's such a stretch" snark, and by linking to an editorial by conservative Bob Novak.

If only DJdlGyN could do a minimal amount of work

He wouldn't want to cause himself any cognitive dissonance.

11/08/2007 3:44 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

As far as Sara De la Guerra expecting our legislators to get an appropriations bill out on time, it's pretty tough when there is so much conflict between the two parties and then you've got this yahoo in the White House who vetoes everything.

Indeed, the answer is that, given the ethics of the Republican Party, no we shouldn't expect that. As Senate Minority Whip Trent Lott told Roll Call magazine, “the strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail. So far it’s working for us.”

11/08/2007 3:51 PM  
Blogger jqb said...

A Bush veto has just been overridden for the first time ever. Pretty shocking what he vetoed:

http://commonsense.ourfuture.org/apocalypse_now_drought

11/08/2007 5:15 PM  

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