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Local News

State Budgets Millions to Backfill Lost Revenues in Santa Barbara County Due to Fire, Floods

The state Legislature has allocated millions of dollars to Santa Barbara County to make up for lost tax revenues from the one-two punch of the Thomas Fire and Montecito debris flows.

For the current fiscal year and next year, which starts July 1, Santa Barbara County will receive $8.26 million in “property tax backfill” and another $8.77 million in education funding, specifically lost K-14 average-daily-attendance per-student funding.

Millions more were budgeted for Ventura County.

Schools closed all over southern Santa Barbara County during the Thomas Fire, when choking smoke caused the worst air quality the Air Pollution Control District has ever recorded.

The state budget also includes $5.5 million for debris removal costs in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, according to State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson’s office.

Both the budget and its trailer bills go into effect immediately after being adopted, her office said.

Jackson and Assemblywoman Monique Limón, whose districts both include a portion of Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, also requested funding to help Goleta restore the Ellwood Mesa butterfly preserve, and the final budget includes $3.9 million for that purpose.

The proposal for the money includes $50,000 per acre for site restoration costs, $200,000 for developing and implementing the Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan (which is underway), coastal permit costs, and features including signage and benches, according to a letter Jackson and Limón sent to members of the state Assembly Budget Conference Committee.

After discovering a lot of the Ellwood Mesa grove’s trees are dead or dying, the city decided to close most of the trails, and has used emergency permits to remove dozens of eucalyptus trees.

Goleta is working on its Monarch Butterfly Habitat Management Plan, and expects to present a draft this summer, city spokeswoman Valerie Kushnerov said.

The plan, and a tree action plan, aim to “ensure the long-term viability of the monarch butterfly population” and improve the conditions of the habitat, city staff members said in a February update to the City Council.

“There will be a lot of public input before we actually get to spend the money, other than for the plan,” Kushernov said.

“We’re thrilled,” she said of the funding.

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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