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Water budget passes House


Additional millions for infrastructure could be funded by lottery loans



By MITCH LIES



Capital Press



SALEM -- The Oregon House of Representatives on June 20 passed a 2013-15 budget for the Oregon Water Resources Department that includes a slight increase from its legislatively approved 2011-13 budget.



The budget, which passed by a vote of 35-24, increases the department's budget from $51.6 million in the current biennium to $53.3 million in the biennium that starts July 1.



Staff in the budget is increased from 144 in the current biennium to 154 in 2013-15.



The budget includes $27.2 million in general funds, up from $20.6 million in 2011-13; $10.6 million in fees; and $13.6 million in grants for advancing water supply development projects.



An additional $10 million in lottery-backed loans for water supply development could be made available by the state, but is not included in the department's budget bill.



A controversial new water right management fee that the department estimated would have generated $5 million annually once fully implemented was scrapped earlier this session. But the budget does include an increase in fee funding generated from a 13 percent increase in water transaction fees. That increase reverts to a 2 percent annual increase in subsequent years.



Phil Ward, director of the department, characterized the budget as "a good solid budget."



"It provides some strategic enhancements that will help us do our job better," he said.



The budget is contained in Senate Bill 5547.



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