Bush budget to affect Corps offices differently

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 8, 2002

[02/066/02]The Vicksburg-based Mississippi Valley Division of the Army Corps of Engineers will get about $37 million less if the Fiscal Year 2003 budget proposed Monday by President Bush is approved by Congress.

At the same time, the Vicksburg District of the Corps, is allocated nearly $3 million more in the president’s spending plan.

Spokesmen for both Corps entities said the spending plan is unrelated to employment. About 700 people are employed full time with the division and district.

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The Bush budget totals $2.13 trillion, but contains cuts for the Corps of Engineers overall. In practice, it is advisory and Congress will set most spending levels for the year that starts Oct. 1.

In the president’s plan, the MVD is allocated $837, down from $874 million for this year. Its allocation for studies and designs is $12 million down from $17 million. The plan allocates $138 million for general construction compared to $190 million this year.

Under general operation and maintenance, the MVD is allocated $355 million, $20 million more than in FY 2002. Included in this category is the operation and upkeep of existing projects, including hydropower facilities, locks and dams, recreation areas and navigable waterways .

Flood control and the Mississippi River and Tributaries projects, allocated $281 million, up $1 million. The division is allocated $51 million, $1 million less for work in a remedial action plan for formerly used sites.

The Corps’ regulatory program allocation is $151 million, up $23 million, and the general expense allocation was raised by $8 million to $161 million.

The district’s allocation is $155.7 million compared to $153 million in FY 2002, said Mark Mazzanti, chief of the program management branch at the Vicksburg District.

“Overall, there has been no reduction,” he said, although there appears to be some cuts in some projects.

For example, the Yazoo Backwater Pump project and the Sunflower River dredging project dropped from a combined total of about $9 million to $500,000.

Mazzanti explained the amount listed in the proposed spending plan is actually what the district requested for the projects and is about the same as it sought in this year’s budget. The $9 million allocation, he said, was a congressional change.