Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2000-01 Budget Bill
Department of Food and Agriculture (8570)

The Department of Food and Agriculture (DFA) operates 21 major facilities16 agricultural inspection stations, two veterinary laboratories, a chemistry and plant pest diagnostic laboratory, and two out-of-state pest laboratories in Arizona and Hawaii. The Governor's budget proposes $1.9 million for three major projects financed by $1.5 million from the General Fund and $0.4 million from the State Highway Account.

Relocation: Yermo Agricultural Inspection Station

We withhold recommendation on $780,000 for working drawings because it is not clear from the schedule that funding is needed in the budget year. (Withhold recommendation on Item 8570-301-0001 [1].)

This project consists of a new Agricultural Inspection Station at Yermo consisting of a 5,700 square feet (sf) inspection structure, six inspection booths, a 2,500 sf office building, a 900 sf containment building, six vehicle lanes, and four truck lanes. These facilities for DFA are part of a larger project being managed by the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to construct a "super station" at Yermo that would provide inspection facilities for the California Highway Patrol as well as DFA. The 1999-00 Budget Act appropriated $522,000 for an environmental study and preliminary plans for this DFA inspection station. The schedule the DFA provided at the time the 1999 appropriation was considered by the Legislature showed preliminary plans would be completed in August 2001 and the environmental study in August 2002. That DFA schedule was part of Caltrans' overall schedule for the "super station."

The DFA has provided a different schedule in support of the appropriation in the Governor's budget. This schedule shows the preliminary plans will be finished June 2000, but it also shows the environmental study will be completed in November 2000. Thus, the preliminary plans would be finished before the environmental study was done, which raises a question if this is a proper sequence in which to do the work. Also, this schedule is inconsistent with the schedule submitted in support of the 1999 appropriation in that it shows the environmental study being completed 21 months earlier. The discrepancy between the two schedules and the sequence of the work in the latest schedule raises questions the department should answer before the Legislature considers future funding requests. Accordingly, we withhold recommendation on this item until the department provides adequate information to explain the differences in the two schedules and sequence of the work.

Relocation: Truckee Agricultural Inspection Station

We withhold recommendation on $533,000 for working drawings pending receipt of information explaining the $4.4 million (58 percent) increase in the cost of the project. (Withhold recommendation on Item 8570-301-0001 [2].)

The Governor's budget proposes $533,000 for working drawings to relocate the Truckee agricultural inspection station. The facility as now proposed consists of an 8,375 sf inspection structure, 6,840 sf truck inspection structure and detention building, seven vehicle lanes, and three truck lanes. The 1998-99 Budget Act included $676,000 for land acquisition, an environmental impact report, and preliminary plans, and the 1999-00 Budget Act included $347,000 for working drawings for this project. A letter from the DFA to the Department of Finance in January 2000 advised that the total estimated project cost had increased from $7,647,000 to $12,089,100 and it was DFA's intent that the $347,000 appropriated in 1999-00 for working drawings revert to the General Fund and an increased amount of $533,000 for working drawings be included in the Governor's budget. The Governor's budget, however, does not include a provision to revert the $347,000 appropriated for working drawings in 1999-00 to the General Fund.

The DFA advises that it began working with Caltrans, which has oversight authority at the site, in September 1998 to develop a project scope and cost estimate, and these were submitted to the Legislature in March 1999 as the basis for the Legislature's inclusion of $347,000 working drawings funding for the project in the 1999-00 budget. Caltrans advised DFA after March 1999 of additional requirements for the project. The DFA indicates that these additional Caltrans requirements are the main cause of the 58 percent increase in the cost of the project. The DFA has provided a list of additional features and costssuch as a seventh traffic lane, an auxiliary lane, provisions for a future lane, and replacement of asphalt pavement with concrete pavement. It is not clear what has occurred in the last year that would necessitate the various changes nor is there any information to substantiate the associated costs. Accordingly, we withhold recommendation on this item pending receipt of additional information that would explain why this additional work and cost are necessary.

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