A plan for how $884 million will be spent on coastal protection and restoration in Louisiana in fiscal year 2016, which included no budget cuts requested by the state, was approved Wednesday by the state’s main coastal board.
Although the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority was asked initially to join with other agencies in finding reductions in spending to the tune of $2.2 million to help balance the state budget, all that money had been returned to the budget by Wednesday.
However, CPRA is still expecting about $2.5 million less than the average amount the authority has received from mineral revenues.
CPRA had suggested cuts by putting a few projects on hold for a year, including a plan to build a Bayou Lafourche saltwater control structure as well as holding off on a couple of programs.
However, $1 million was back in the budget for a restoration partnership program and $250,000 was back for assistance to levee districts, said Kyle Graham, CPRA executive director. The remaining $1 million was restored to go toward recently approved Coastal Wetland Planning, Protection and Restoration Act projects.
Money was not restored for the saltwater control structure, Graham said, but there could be excess money found in the second phase of another Bayou Lafourche project that could be used to start the stalled project.
The coastal innovation program also will return next year, Graham said, which would have likely happened anyway because the program was going to move to a two-year schedule.
The annual plan, a requirement by state law, shows how money is received and spent in accordance with the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s 2012 master plan.
Of the $884 million to be spent in fiscal year 2016, about 67 percent will go toward construction of projects with the remainder going to engineering and design, planning, operation and maintenance, as well as operational expenses.
The 2015 plan also includes some much larger than normal projects at more than $100 million, including work on the long-distance sediment pipeline and the Caminada headland projects. In addition, restoration work on Shell Island and Whiskey Island, both barrier islands, will begin this year.
The annual plan now needs to be approved by the state legislature.
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