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E-M:/ DNR renovation an open process

Enviro-Mich message from "Timothy Roby" <Robyt@state.mi.us>

Dave Dempsey's posting on the Mason Building renovation is less than complete. His inferences that Department of Natural Resources management diverted money from important program priorities for "redecorating" and fulfilling a "wish list" are unfortunate and unfair.

The Mason Building renovation is a three-year project. In the last two years, we have taken UNEXPENDED funds already appropriated by the Legislature and, at year end, transferred those dollars to the Building Occupancy account. We then carried forward the dollars to the next fiscal year for renovation.

It was a two step process: first a transfer requiring Legislative approval, and then DMB approval to carry forward (which is legislatively approved by the absence of a disapproval.)

At the end of Fiscal Year 1998, the DNR budget staff determined the amount of unexpended funds by each division. It's important to note that the entire $780,000 identified for renovation would have LAPSED, including $100,000 in general funds from state parks and $50,000 from the Michigan Conservation Corps. 

Simply stated, the DNR didn't divert money from program priorities, as Mr. Dempsey alleges. 

Furthermore, we have been very open about our renovation efforts. Not only is this the first renovation project for the Mason Building in 25 years, many elected officials who have seen the shoddy working conditions for our employees have agreed that the renovation was necessary. 

The bottom line here is that we are funding the Mason Building renovation on the back-end, not the front-end, of the budgeting process with funds that would otherwise have lapsed back to the general fund. We identified these funds at the end of the fiscal year and asked the Legislature to authorize their transfer for this purpose. We believe there is merit in improving the Mason Building.

Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

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