Around 11 o’clock, a driver traveling northbound on Highway 16 ran a red light and struck another driver headed westbound on Catron Boulevard.
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(AP) – Authorities in a second state have confirmed an incident of vandalism against the Dakota Access pipeline. Mahaska County Sheriff Russell Van Renterghem in Iowa says it appears someone used a torch to cut a hole in the empty pipeline at an above-ground safety valve site southeast of Des Moines. He says it appears the culprit maneuvered under a fence around the facility. The incident was discovered March 13.
AUGUSTA The proposed $29.2 million school budget, up by about $280,000 over the superintendent s initial budget proposal, goes to the school board for a vote Wednesday. Superintendent James Anastasio s initially proposed school budget totaled $28.9 million, which was about $740,000 less than the current year s budget.
However, in budget workshops since the budget was presented, school board members put items cut in Anastasio s proposal back into the budget, increasing it to just under $29.2 million. Positions cut but then returned to the budget by the board in the latest proposal total about $280,000 and include a school nurse at Cony High School at $71,000, a security guard at Cony at $27,000, and other positions, according to Kim Martin, chairwoman of the school board.
The board was very leery of cutting any direct service positions for our students, so the board added some positions back in, Martin said.
Also in the time since Anastasio first proposed a budget, the school department received a projection from the state of how much funding Augusta will get for its schools, although that figure could very well change as the state Legislature works on the state budget. The recently released state funding projects Augusta would get $12.8 million, an increase of $135,000 over what Anastasio included in the initial budget. So the increase in projected state funding covers some, but not all of the expenses added back into the budget by board members, leaving about $145,000 in additional funding which would come from local taxpayers.
Even before that change, the school budget, although it is lower than the current year s $29.6 million budget, would have required $600,000 more funding from local taxpayers next year. That s because the proposed budget takes less from the fund balance, or surplus, account than the current year s, leaving more of the funding burden to be covered by property taxes. With the restored cuts, the budget would now, if passed as proposed, require an additional $740,000 from taxpayers. The board is scheduled to vote on the budget at their 6 p.m. meeting Wednesday in council chambers at Augusta City Center.
Once the school budget is approved by the school board, it goes to the City Council to be included in the overall city and school budget. Councilors can, and often do, ask that the school board make changes to the budget before councilors vote on whether to approve the total city and school budget. The school budget must also be validated by voters in a citywide referendum scheduled for June 13. The school board is also scheduled to vote Wednesday on another proposal that would go to voters in June. The proposal is to seek residents permission for the board, if Augusta receives more state funding for education than the amount included in the budget, to use some or all of the additional funds. The board could use the money to add programming and its associated expenses back into the budget, and/or use the additional state funds to decrease the amount of money that would come from local property taxpayers. Martin said a new state law allows school systems, if they get more money from the state than anticipated in their budgets, to use additional amounts to help fund that year s budget. Martin said previously when that happened, the additional money couldn t be used if the local budget had already been passed, so the additional state money went into the fund balance account.
Keith Edwards 621-5647
The U.S. Coast Guard has apparently sailed around a proposed billion-dollar budget cut after an outcry from advocates and lawmakers. The Homeland Security Department, of which the service is a part, recently released additional details into the White House s budget amendment for fiscal 2017 and budget blueprint for fiscal 2018, also known as the skinny budget. While the latter a 62-page document released Thursday doesn t mention the Coast Guard, the department s release from the same day states the proposed spending plan sustains current funding levels for the U.S. Coast Guard, which allows for the continuation of day-to-day operations and investments in the acquisition, construction and improvements account.
A spokeswoman for the Coast Guard referred questions about the matter to the White House Office of Management and Budget, which first proposed the reduction. The news was nevertheless welcomed by Coastie enthusiasts, from Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft to Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California and a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure s Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee.
Everything that was released was pre-decisional, Zukunft told reporters, according to an article by Christopher Cavas of Defense News. Normally that [debate] doesn t hit the public domain, but it did. When it did there was an avalanche of support for the Coast Guard. Bipartisan support. In a letter Friday to President Donald Trump, Hunter recommended moving management of the Coast Guard from the Homeland Security Department to the Defense Department to better shield the service from potential spending reductions. (Notably, both departments are currently headed by retired Marines John Kelly at Homeland and Jim Mattis at the Pentagon.)
Hunter wrote, Over time, the Coast Guard s mission importance has not been properly recognized or advocated for as demonstrated by years of underfunded budget requests, and perhaps most clearly, by this year s grossly inadequate proposed Office of Management and Budget (OMB) funding guidance.
The office had proposed a $1.3 billion cut to the Coast Guard in fiscal 2018, which begins Oct. 1. The service s total budget authority for fiscal 2017 is $10.3 billion, according to service budget documents. The reduction, if approved by Congress, may have forced the Coast Guard to cancel a contract for a new national security cutter.
First and foremost, the Coast Guard is a military force, Hunter continued. It deserves to be housed in a department that recognizes the importance of its mission, and has the capabilities to properly advocate for greatly needed resources. And the Coast Guard s mission set, acquisition needs and national security role provide a strong case that our country would be best served by housing the Coast Guard at DoD.
The commandant may agree. During his annual State of the Coast Guard address last week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Zukunft encouraged folks to think of the service like a military branch.
The Coast Guard is an armed service, he said, according to a copy of his remarks. Yet we are not postured to benefit from vital national security investments because our funding is classified incorrectly. Our men and women are military members who operate on the front lines to secure our nation and our borders. Our service must be categorized and funded accordingly.