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Local News

Goleta Valley Beautiful Budget Squeezed by State Freeze

California's fiscal crisis puts organization's funding in jeopardy, uprooting a range of projects.

Goleta Valley Beautiful is best known for its tree plantings, but the 35-year-old organization provides a range of education and volunteer opportunities.
Goleta Valley Beautiful is best known for its tree plantings, but the 35-year-old organization provides a range of education and volunteer opportunities. (Goleta Valley Beautiful photo)

California’s budget impasse is putting the pinch on Goleta Valley Beautiful’s programs. The state has notified the nonprofit organization that its funds have been frozen pending a budget resolution in Sacramento.

“Basically we received a letter from the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection,” said Ken Knight, Goleta Valley Beautiful’s executive director. “And because the state budget has not yet been completed, it’s causing havoc in the bond markets.”

Because of the mess, state bonds that would fund organizations like GVB are not being sold.

What this means for the neighborhood beautification organization, which receives more than half of its funding from the state, is that reimbursements on current grants for work not completed and not requested by last Dec. 17 will be frozen.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and legislative leaders are in a protracted battle over how to close a budget deficit that is expected to balloon to $42 billion by July 2010. State Controller John Chiang has warned that California will run out of cash by late February unless there’s a resolution. The state may begin issuing IOUs instead of tax refunds by early February and also may delay payment to local governments, state vendors, judges, legislators and their employees.

For the 35-year-old Goleta Valley Beautiful, Knight said, the impact is dire. He said projects totaling about $75,000 will have to be shelved and many others curtailed.

To add to an already sticky situation, this season is prime planting season, when trees can take advantage of winter rainfall. Planting later in the year will require more maintenance, which will elevate costs.

Volunteers proudly pose with their completed project at Goleta Union School District headquarters.
Volunteers proudly pose with their completed project at Goleta Union School District headquarters. (Goleta Valley Beautiful photo)
And if Goleta Valley Beautiful does not complete work on some of the projects it has already started and paid for, it won’t get reimbursed at all.

Knight even had to lay himself off and stop paying the organization’s two employees, said Knight, who now considers himself a volunteer.

Still, the organization will not be shutting down, he said. Goleta Valley Beautiful will continue to run its weekly maintenance projects, thanks to volunteers, athough it may not have the funds. The organization will also proceed with its Feb. 7 workshop featuring prominent arborists discussing the care of young trees.

And while work on the city of Goleta’s Urban Forest Management Plan has come to a halt, Goleta Valley Beautiful will still be doing preparatory work in anticipation of that project.

The organization is looking to establish more local support to help alleviate its budget problem and is currently in the middle of its annual membership campaign.

“We know it’s tough time all over, but any amount is appreciated,” Knight said.

Click here to donate or volunteer for Goleta Valley Beautiful.

Write to [email protected]

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