LAO 2006-07 Budget Analysis: Resources

Analysis of the 2006-07 Budget Bill

Legislative Analyst's Office
February 2006

Sierra Nevada Conservancy (3855)

The Sierra Nevada Conservancy was established by statute in 2004. The conservancy will undertake projects and make grants and loans for various public purposes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, including increasing tourism and recreation; protecting cultural, archaeological, and historical resources; reducing the risk of natural disasters; and protecting and improving water and air quality.

The budget proposes total expenditures of $3.7 million from two sources, the Environmental License Plate Fund ($3.5 million) and reimbursements ($200,000), and 20.5 positions for the conservancy in 2006-07.

Conservancy Failed to Report Expenditure Requirements to Legislature

The budget proposes $3.5 million from the Environmental License Plate Fund and $200,000 from reimbursements to fund conservancy operations and activities. We recommend the Legislature withhold action on the budget request until the conservancy submits a report detailing its total expenditure requirements for 2006-07 and future years, as required by the Legislature. (Reduce Item 3855-001-0140 by $3.5 million and reimbursements by $200,000.)

Background. Chapter 726, Statutes of 2004 (AB 2600, Leslie), established the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. The mission of the conservancy is to preserve and restore significant natural, cultural, archaeological, recreational, and working landscape resources (farms, ranches, and forests) in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The conservancy’s jurisdiction covers 25 million acres and is divided into six subregions. In 2005, the conservancy began its start-up activities, such as determining a headquarters location and initiating an executive director search.

The conservancy’s initial focus in its first two years is undertaking and facilitating a strategic program planning process involving meetings and workshops within each of the subregions, with the purpose of formulating strategic program objectives and priorities within that subregion. Chapter 726 requires these activities in order to encourage local involvement and participation in the conservancy’s activities.

Legislature Requested Report on Ongoing Expenditure Requirements. The Legislature approved the conservancy’s budget of $3.6 million for 2005-06 with the understanding that some of the conservancy’s expenditures in the current year reflect start-up costs that are one-time or limited in term and that the conservancy’s ongoing expenditure requirements had not yet been fully determined. Accordingly, in the Supplemental Report of the 2005 Budget Act, the Legislature required the conservancy to report to the Legislature, in conjunction with its 2006-07 budget proposal, on its total expenditure requirements for 2006-07 and future years, including the amount, purpose, and term of these expenditures.

Conservancy Has Failed to Submit Report; Recommend Legislature Withhold Action on Budget Request. At the time this analysis was prepared, the conservancy had not reported on its expenditure requirements for the budget and future years, as directed by the Legislature. Without the conservancy’s report, the Legislature lacks information that it felt necessary to evaluate the conservancy’s proposed budget for 2006-07. For this reason, we recommend the Legislature withhold action on the conservancy’s budget until the conservancy has submitted the required expenditure report for legislative review.

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