River Partners Impacted by State Budget
In December 2008, when the Pooled Money Investment Board (PMIB) halted bond sales for state infrastructure projects until lawmakers solved the $42 million budget shortfall, River Partners felt the repercussions.
Already holding about $800,000 in receivables for work completed for California, River Partners was ordered to suspend activity on $2.7 million in projects throughout the Central Valley. Since this totaled about 33 percent of its funding base, River Partners had to downsize its staff, among taking other measures, to ensure its financial solvency and future.
"This has been a very frustrating time," said John Carlon, River Partners president, "however we have been working together with our partners to get through this situation. We have several new agreements in place to allow us to move forward; we've renegotiated contracts with some state funders which will free up some of our working capital and pay our vendors."
River Partners does business with more than 275 vendors throughout the Central Valley. "There are jobs that are associated with River Partners that were threatened in addition to ours" Carlon said. "These are good jobs in our community that people could lose." This budget crisis was a keen lesson that the public safety and environmental projects the organization implements truly affect and engage the local economies in the region.
Now with the budget passed, River Partners is eager to resume work and anxious for state agencies to start reviewing proposals for voter-approved bond initiatives. The organization has invested time in developing new projects for the Feather, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Otay and Colorado rivers. These restoration projects will generate "green-collar" jobs – the type of work that translates traditional agricultural skills into conservation and floodplain management work.
According to Carlon, "We have shovel-ready projects in the queue which fit perfectly with the Obama stimulus objectives. If we can endure the state crisis, River Partners potentially could serve as a conduit for the stimulus money, bringing additional improvements and jobs to the Central Valley."