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Augusta Canal Heritage Area funding to expire Sept. 30

Monday, Sept. 17, 2012 1:39 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012 1:25 AM
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Despite months of lobbying, the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area’s flow of federal money is set to expire Sept. 30, with future payments more in limbo than ever.

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Tour guide Lynne Hill leads a group on a Petersburg Boat Tour down the Augusta Canal.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Tour guide Lynne Hill leads a group on a Petersburg Boat Tour down the Augusta Canal.

“There has been quite a bit of activity but nothing concrete yet,” said Dayton Sherrouse, the Augusta Canal Authority’s executive director. “It may even be next year before we know anything.”

When Congress created the heritage area legislation in 1996, it included a sunset clause to halt National Park Service funding to Augusta and 11 other sites after 16 years.

Efforts to renew or extend the law have not been successful, and Congress – moving more slowly during a presidential election year – has not adopted a fiscal year 2013 budget.

Sherrouse said it is possible – but not certain – that the “continuing resolution” that allows the government to keep operating under the previous year’s budget until a new one is adopted could preserve Augusta’s allocation for next year.

This year, that allocation was slightly more than $300,000, making up about 20 percent of the canal authority’s annual operating budget. Other funding sources include grants, sale of hydropower from the canal’s turbines, and revenues from boat tours and other activities.

Even if the funding were formally restored in some future budget, across-the-board cuts at the federal level would likely cut those allocations by 10 percent or more, he said.

The heritage area concept is to use federal resources as leverage to preserve and improve significant areas by stimulating involvement from local and state agencies.

In the 16 years since the canal heritage area was designated, it has received $5.8 million from the park service, though the legislation allows up to $1 million each year with a long-term total limit of $15 million.

Audited expenditures found that the canal authority has spent $26.4 million since 1998 on direct support to the heritage area and its programs, with only 19 percent from National Park Service funding.

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Riverman1
84011
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Riverman1 09/17/12 - 02:36 pm
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I never understood what they

I never understood what they did with the money in any case.

RoadkiII
6596
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RoadkiII 09/17/12 - 03:09 pm
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1
Told ya

Efforts to renew or extend the law have not been successful, and Congress – moving more slowly during a presidential election year – has not yet adopted a fiscal year 2013 budget.

There ya have it. Proof that the Emperor has spent the last 3 years campaigning for re-election.

jstatxpyr
13
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jstatxpyr 09/17/12 - 03:16 pm
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title spelling err

Expire..sorry to be trivial:)

Little Lamb
46022
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Little Lamb 09/17/12 - 03:54 pm
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Seed Money

These grants that expire are intended to be start-up money. The organization is expected to use the time to arrange ongoing operating financing from other sources. Dayton Sherrouse merely kept on eating the seed corn instead of planting and growing.

Sean Moores
385
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Sean Moores 09/17/12 - 03:55 pm
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Thanks jstatxpyr

It's fixed.

omnomnom
3964
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omnomnom 09/17/12 - 08:29 pm
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Roadkill, congress is in

Roadkill, congress is in charge of the budget.

dichotomy
32981
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dichotomy 09/17/12 - 08:43 pm
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Shades of Fort Discovery and

Shades of Fort Discovery and the state and federal taxpayer funding for it drying up. Of course I don't think they ever got anywhere close to the 80% capable of standing on their own feet mark. I don't think they ever even got close to 20% capable.

Most taxpayer "seed money" projects go the way of Fort Discovery and Solyndra.

If the Canal Heritage Area is CLOSE to 80% sustainable without federal money it probably deserves to be saved.

soapy_725
43678
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soapy_725 09/18/12 - 08:22 am
1
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Amen Little Lamb
Unpublished

Entitlement Mentality is not limited to the poor and disenfranchised. It finds GREED on every level. GREED is an equal opportunity temptation. Even those who preach against entitlements just have to "dip their beaks" once and a while.

scgator
1042
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scgator 09/18/12 - 02:46 pm
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"These grants that expire are

"These grants that expire are intended to be start-up money." After all of this time, let it stand on it's own, or shut down. We have way too much that is more important than riding school groups up and down the canal bragging on what Augusta USED to be................

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