ARB Releases SCAQMD Budget Review, Shows Costs Savings
For immediate release
In accordance with a new law signed last year by Governor Wilson, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) today released its review of the South Coast Air Quality Management District's (SCAQMD) proposed 1995-96 budget forecast.
"By comparing the SCAQMD to the ARB and other air districts, we identified a number of key areas in their budget forecast where significant savings can be achieved. In addition, we recommend that cost savings be used to reduce fees charged to Southern California employers," ARB Chairman John Dunlap said.
Among the key recommendations for cost savings are:
- Employee Compensation - The review found that SCAQMD employees receive compensation on average 20 percent higher than the ARB for equivalent positions. Adjustments should be made during the next round of contract negotiations and collective bargaining later this year.
- Facility Expenses - The SCAQMD is not using a substantial amount of space in the new headquarters it built in 1991, with a total of 150,000 square feet of unoccupied space at all district facilities. This space could be subleased or sold for an annual savings of over $2 million.
- Travel Budgets - Out-of-district, out-of-state and out-of-country travel totals nearly $220,000 per year. A new travel policy which focuses resources primarily on the District's own region and responsibilities is recommended.
- Outreach and Lobbying - The SCAQMD's $6.1 million Outreach and Lobbying budget exceeds the total budget of 26 of the state's air districts. Although legislation mandates some outreach activities, the size of publications and press relations budgets are discretionary. In addition, more than $200,000 is spent on outside lobbying contracts in Washington DC and Sacramento which seem to duplicate the efforts of the six district personnel with those same responsibilities. A justification needs to be made for continuing those contracts.
"The SCAQMD has made considerable progress in improving air quality in Southern California and must continue to do so. Yet in order to retain public confidence, every effort must be made to minimize the cost of district programs and the fees charged to employers. As a result of AB 1853, the ARB will continue to work with the SCAQMD and the Legislature to ensure that all opportunities for savings are realized and that the savings are passed back to fee payers," Dunlap said.