Weekend News Briefs from CVBT

April 14, 2017 9:01pm
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•  More good news about water for testate

•  A closed-door meeting to watch with interest

•  Central Valley lawmaker’s office vandalized

•  And more….

State Water Project deliveries increased

This year’s State Water Project will supply to 100 percent for contractors north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and 85 percent of requests for other contractors, the Department of Water Resources says.

“We’re hopeful we’ll be able to increase deliveries even more as we monitor conditions,” says DWR Acting Director William Croyle.

The new allocation is the highest since 100 percent in 2006.

DWR initially estimated it would only be able to deliver 20 percent of the 4.1 million acre-feet of SWP water requested this year. That projection was increased to 45 percent on December 21 and to 60 percent on January 18 as storms developed.

DWR also says repairs have been completed to the intake structure at Clifton Court Forebay, a reservoir feeding the Delta pumps that deliver State Water Project water to most of California. Erosion damage was discovered last month on the concrete apron that supports the reservoir’s intake gates. Clifton Court Forebay and Delta pumping operations will return to normal on Sunday, DWR says.

Meanwhile, work continues to repair spillways at the keystone SWP reservoir, Lake Oroville. Lake levels this spring and summer have not been determined yet and will depend on public safety, the weather, and the pace at which the Sierra Nevada snowpack melts, among other factors.


Embattled Board of Equalization holds special meeting Monday

For the public, Monday’s special meeting of the state Board of Equalization could be hours of sitting around waiting for the board members to emerge from behind closed doors.

Last week BOA Executive Director David Gau refused to answer questions at a state Assembly hearing, citing a possible lawsuit. The hearing was called following a scathing report by the governor’s Department of Finance that said the BOE has failed to correct accounting deficiencies and allowed elected board members to use the labors of their staffs on pet projects.

Monday’s meeting agenda is brief: discussion about potential litigation and discussion about unnamed personnel.


Police probe vandalism at Assemblyman’s Modesto office

The investigation continues into a break-in at the Modesto offices of state Assemblyman Heath Flora.

The Republican lawmaker says, in a Tweet, that the “break-in follows two other incidents this year involving suspicious packages including a bag that Modesto Police confirmed was filled with the unassembled components of a homemade bomb.”

The break-in included smashing a plate glass window and scrawling graffiti on a wall.


Caltrans breaks ground on new bridge for Highway 49

Construction is underway on a new bridge on Highway 49 of the American Rive. It is designed to meet current seismic standards and provide safer access for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. The new bridge will replace the existing 62-year-old structure.

The $22 million project will include seismic upgrades, standard 8-foot shoulders and new sidewalks on both sides of the bridge. The highway will also be realigned and will include construction of new curbs, gutters, sidewalks and retaining walls that meet current design standards.

“Now that the piers of the new bridge are on land versus being in the water, this new bridge will not only allow for safer travel by pedestrians and bicyclists, but it will also make it easier for rafters in the river below,” says Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.


Hey Siri, drive my car

Computer and smartphone maker Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: APPL) has been given permission to start on-the-road testing of a self-driving car.

Apple is the 30th company to get the state’s permission to try self-driving vehicles on the state’s highways.

The company has been closed-mouthed about its plans, but the permit is for six drivers – in California driverless cars still need drivers ready to take over – and three vehicles.


State wants less emissions from locomotives

California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols is asking the U.S. EPA take action to adopt more stringent emission standards for locomotives, saying that the move is needed to clean up the air in high-risk communities in and around the nation’s railyards.

The purpose of the request is to accelerate the movement to zero- or near-zero emission locomotives, CARB says.

Proposed emission standards would cut toxic and smog-causing emissions by 85 percent for diesel particulate matter and 66 percent for oxides of nitrogen below current levels for locomotives.

“A new generation of locomotives will also, once in operation, offer fuel savings to the railroad industry,” Ms. Nichols says.


Free tax preparation services available on tax day

Free tax return preparation services will be offered by hundreds of volunteers in dozens of locations throughout California on Tax Day (Tuesday, April 18).

IRS-certified tax preparers at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites will assist with state and federal returns and check taxpayer eligibility for the California Earned Income Tax Credit and the companion federal EITC, which are cash-back refunds available to low-income families.

“Thanks to all of the dedicated volunteers and nonprofit partners, plenty of options are still available to get help meeting the April 18 deadline,” says state Controller Betty Yee, chairman of the Franchise Tax Board.

Taxpayers who fail to file a state return on April 18 automatically receive a six-month filing extension. However, an extension does not relieve payment of taxes due on April 18.

Those seeking extra time to file a federal return may request a federal extension by visiting irs.gov. Pay all 2016 taxes by April 18 to avoid interest and penalties.


Stanislaus County praised – again -- for financial acumen

Stanislaus County has received the prestigious GFOA Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA).

The award is the 14th in a row received by Stanislaus County. In order to receive the award, the county has to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. The county’s detailed budget document was reviewed by a national team of financial professionals for quality, completeness and the ability to meet the stringent criteria created by the national association.

“We are thrilled to once again be selected to receive this award,” says Jody Hayes, the assistant executive officer for Stanislaus County. “The county spends a tremendous amount of time and resources to create a transparent and complete budget document the public can use to understand county finances and how funds are budgeted. This is a great honor.”

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