|SECURE RURAL SCHOOLS FUNDS SECURED|
ONE MORE YEAR 7-23-12 LMS
The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act was originally passed in 2000 as a means to reimburse funds for schools and roads in counties once dependent on public lands timber harvest revenues. The act has expired and been reauthorized and expired again since that time.
Lemhi County and local school districts are very relieved to hear funding from the Act has been extended through fiscal year 2012. Funds have been approved at approximately 95 percent of what was received in 2011.
The news was discussed with County Road and Bridge Superintendent Kerrie Cheney at the July 23 meeting of the Lemhi County Commissioners. Commissioner Bob Cope said the actual numbers have not yet been seen and there may be minor changes however he is estimating that the funding will be very close to 95 percent of 2011 levels.
In 2011 the Lemhi County Road and Bridge Department received $1,475,536 and School District 291 was given $554,637.
Idaho Senator Mike Crapo called the extension a “fix” and said supporters are still working to make sure that “…the water gets to the end of the road, if you will.” He said there is a difference between an extension and a reauthorization. “’Reauthorized’ means that the whole program is reauthorized and therefore it is an appropriate part of the budget. You still have to go in and find the necessary off-sets to keep it in the budget, and I would like to make it a part of the underlying base.” Crapo said simply extending the Act’s benefits means the Appropriations Committee is providing the dollars without the ‘reauthorized’ language. He said that the extension, “…basically kicks the can down the road.”
The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act also funds projects that are approved by a Resource Advisory Committee. The committee approvals are based on whether or not the project is considered beneficial to resources on the national forests.
The Central Idaho Resource Advisory Committee (CIRAC) will be meeting August 16 to elect a new chairperson, seat two new members and begin the review of submitted projects. The committee will be filling the chairmanship seat left by County Commissioner Bob Cope who stepped down in June to accept a position on the National Planning Rule Resource Advisory Committee.
The committee’s new members are; Alan Howell of Leadore, who will fill the committee vacancy left by Cope, and Sarah Baker of Clayton who will be taking the seat vacated by Bart Wojciechowski.
The CIRAC is now accepting project proposals for review and those projects must be submitted by August 10 in order to be considered by the committee.
According to Salmon Challis National Forest Supervisor Frank Guzman, “The authority of the RAC to recommend projects for funding will expire on September 30, 2012, so they need to complete recommendations for 2013 in a very tight timeline.”
Anyone interested in submitting a project proposal should contact CIRAC Coordinator Karen Dunlap at the Salmon-Challis Supervisor’s Office.
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