Delaware • New Jersey • Pennsylvania
New York • United States of America
For Immediate Release
January 21, 2004
(WEST TRENTON, N.J.) - The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) today adopted its $4.867 million annual operating budget for fiscal year 2005 (July 1, 2004 through June 30, 2005) and put in place a mechanism for program and other service reductions totaling an estimated $869,000 if the five commission members do not fully contribute their fair share of the budget.
The five commissioners, who represent the governors of the four states with land drained by the Delaware River (Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania) and the United States, directed DRBC Executive Director Carol R. Collier "... to implement any or all of the actions outlined in the schedule entitled 'Services Reduction Plan for Fiscal Year 2005 Resulting from Signatory Party Shortfalls' or additional actions that she deems appropriate to maintain the financial stability of the General Fund."
The DRBC was formed by compact in 1961 through legislation signed into law by the President of the United States and the governors of the four basin states. The passage of this compact marked the first time in our nation's history that the federal government and a group of states joined together as equal partners in a river basin planning, development, and regulatory agency. The 100-year compact stipulates that the five signatory parties agree to support the commission's annual budget. The federal government adhered to this legislative obligation for 35 years, paying its 20 percent share of the DRBC's annual operating budget. Then in 1996, Washington zeroed out the DRBC's federal appropriation while remaining an active voting commission member possessing the same powers and authority as the other signatory parties.
"Since October 1, 1996, the commission has continued, and in some cases even expanded, its many important duties relating to interstate flow and drought management, pollution control, watershed planning, flood protection, permitting, and education/outreach without federal support of its annual operating budget," Collier said. "In some cases, we were able to obtain grant funding; for the most part, however, we dipped into our reserves. The cumulative federal shortfall has grown to $5.7 million in a small agency with a $5 million annual budget, and the reserves have been practically exhausted."
The failure of the signatory parties to provide their full fair share contribution has led to annual revenue shortfalls of as much as $869,000 over the past several fiscal years, of which $694,000 (or 80 percent) was due to the loss of the federal contribution.
"We are now facing very serious program cutbacks unless Washington can be convinced that the commission is deserving of federal dollars to support its annual operating budget as envisioned by President Kennedy and the 87th Congress 43 years ago," Collier said.
"Senator Arlen Specter from Pennsylvania is leading the charge to restore federal funding, and his efforts in the fall of 2003 came close to being successful. He has pledged to try again this year and we are grateful to him and the other members of the U.S. Senate and House who support federal funding restoration. But time is running out before we are faced with painful decisions," Collier added.
Commission programs that might be impacted include efforts to reduce the amount of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other toxics in the Delaware River, flood loss reduction, river flow management and fisheries protection, possible expansion of the DRBC's Special Protection Waters regulations into the Lower Delaware, water quality monitoring/analysis, interstate watershed partnerships, timely reviews of project applications, public education/outreach, and cost-shared projects with federal partners.
For more information about the budget and the services reduction plan, visit the DRBC's web site at http://www.drbc.net.
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Clarke Rupert, (609) 883-9500 ext. 260
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