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Paradise Irrigation District could lose millions in recovery dollars

Governor Newsom slashed $7.3 million from his May revised budget, which officials say was promised to PID after the Camp Fire.

Posted: May 19, 2020 7:25 PM

PARADISE, Calif. - Governor Newsom slashed $7.3 million from his May revised budget, which officials say was promised to PID after the Camp Fire.

PID tells me losing this money could jeopardize being able to maintain their daily operations, like fixing leaks, customer service, and employee wages.

Paradise Vice Mayor Steve Crowder said, "We just really need the governor to stick to his word and do what he said he’d do."

Crowder says it’s a huge blow to PID and the entire town's recovery.

"We’ve all been scraping and struggling to come back and rebuild," he said.

Shawn Shingler, Camp Fire survivor, and contractor said, "This is going to hurt if our governor can't come through and fund this for PID."

Shingler says clean water is essential for not only living back on the ridge but rebuilding too.

"The building here will stop, I can't imagine whats going to happen," he said.

District Manager Kevin Phillips says the only requirement for receiving the funds was to continue a consolidation study, and he says they’ve kept up their end of the bargain.

"We kind of feel like we got pushed down a path and kicked off a cliff," said Phillips.

"They met the conditions that were asked of them the studies took place they put things off that the state didn’t want them to do," Crowder said.

Phillips said part of the study was to look at abilities to cut expenses, sustain the future of the district or even opportunities to merge with another agency, but they can’t complete the study without the money.

"We’re still kind of in shock on this," he said.

Action News Now reached out to Senator Nielsen who said “It is heartless to cut critical funding that was promised and approved into law to bring back clean water to Paradise, while hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the unsustainable High Speed Rail and the enforcement of the 'job-killer' AB 5 remain in this budget. Without this funding, the Town of Paradise’s recovery effort may come to a halt.”

Assemblyman Gallagher said, “The Governor and the Legislature committed 2 years of revenue backfill funding to Paradise Irrigation District in order to give them some stability while they work on a plan to restore the water system and get back on their feet. The Governor’s Department of Finance paid out the first year of funding and now have yanked back the second year right before it was to be paid. It is a broken promise and cripples the water district at the most critical time. The Governor needs to right this wrong immediately. I will certainly be doing everything I can in the Legislature.”

Phillips says PID is actively working with the legislature to get the funding back.

Action News Now also reached out to Governor Newsom and demanded answers, but we did not hear back.

The $7.3 million is part of a $14.6 million two year backfill budget plan approved by the governor last year. 

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Mild temperatures, breezy south winds, and improved air quality are ahead for your Wednesday. Coastal showers will be possible on Thursday, and then hot temperatures and high fire danger return for your weekend.
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