Public dollars are hard to come by. These days, that’s a given.
When Michigan communities have to make the best of less financial aid from state government, it is outrageous that federal dollars earmarked to protect water quality should end up with one county at the expense of many.
This time, the immediate blame doesn’t belong to Washington. We are painfully aware of the federal government’s chronic budget crisis and diminishing expectations for federal dollars.
The feds allocated only $152,000 to monitor Michigan’s waters. Lansing decided to give most of it to Macomb County.
In approving the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s 2014 budget, state lawmakers assigned two thirds - $100,000 - of the grant money to a Macomb County project designed to speed up the process of determining whether E. coli bacteria levels are dangerous. Ten other county health departments get the remaining $52,000.
St. Clair County is among the lucky ones. Its health department will get $13,000. Other Lake Huron counties didn’t fare as well.
Iosco’s share is $5,200. Alpena’s is $2,600. Sanilac and Huron counties didn’t get any money at all. Huron Environmental Health Director Tip MacGuire fears that means the county won’t be able to do any water monitoring next year.
Let’s face it. The federal grant is way too small to meet the counties’ water monitoring needs. The money, small as it is, should have been spread around equitably.
State Reps. Anthony Forlini of Macomb County and Eileen Kowall of Oakland County are responsible for the provision that steers most of the grant money to Macomb County. Kowall said they didn’t think next year’s water monitoring money would be so little.
Michigan must make the best of it. The Obama administration is proposing to eliminate the grant. Counties that already lost funding won’t know the difference.
Times Herald, Port Huron