Schools, county juggle $45K in federal funds

archive_import

By CLAIRE ST. JOHN

It's not often schools have money to give to the county.

This year, to help ease the county's budget woes and show the federal government that Tuolumne County is doing the right thing county Superintendent of Schools Joe Silva offered $45,000.

But with all the talk of underfunded schools, where does that kind of offering come from?

It's a little complicated:

Each year, the county gets federal money from the 2000 Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act.

The Act provides every county with a varying amount of money to make up for declining national forest timber-sales receipts that once helped fund roads and schools.

Last year, Tuolumne County got $2 million.

But there are strings attached: 85 percent of the pot is split between schools and roads. The remaining 15 is divided between school-sponsored forestry programs and Stanislaus National Forest improvements, like watershed protection or fire prevention.

The $45,000 Silva kicked back to the county is the 7.5 percent that had been earmarked for after-school and summertime forestry programs.

The county can't use the cash Silva gave back to repair potholes or hire deputies. It has to be spent on projects recommended by a county-appointed Resource Advisory Committee made up of representatives of different forest-interest groups, like environmentalists, ranchers, loggers and Native American tribes.

But not every county has an RAC.

The ones that don't can keep the Act's cash under a less-restrictive designation, allowing them to use less for federal lands and more for local projects.

The Act comes up for renewal in 2006. Federal lawmakers have sent signals that if they don't feel counties are using the money properly, they won't reinstate the Act.

Schools and transportation officials would again have to depend on receipts from National Forest timber sales, and those receipts have plummeted over the last 15 years, said Steve Boyack, Tuolumne County natural resources analyst.

11509712
The Union Democrat
This image is copyrighted.

Reach all of Sonora, Calaveras County, Tuolumne, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, & Jamestown with your items to sell.

Ads appear Online and in Print

View Classifieds Place an Ad

Connect with The Union Democrat

Union Democrat Newsstand

Tuesday February 28, 2017

Read digital interactive editions of our publications

Read Today's Edition Take A Tour

More Publications by The Union Democrat

View All Publications
McClintock town hall draws large, divided crowd

02/22/2017

There was patriotic singing, chanting and sign waving inside the packed 569-seat ... more

Diverse views outside McClintock Town Hall

02/22/2017

They came with signs and flags and at least one mask, expressing ... more

Weather takes a swipe at Groveland business

02/23/2017

Recent road damage, rockfall, slides and Merced River flooding in January have ... more

County appoints working group on marijuana regulations

02/22/2017

What do two county supervisors, a former California Highway Patrol commander, a ... more