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Conservancy Targeted for Spending Cuts : Finances: Governor’s proposed budget reduces allocations for the parklands agency and a study of earthquake safety. Officials said the trims were expected.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Gov. Pete Wilson’s rosy economic outlook stopped short of spelling out extra dollars for the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, one of several agencies targeted for cutbacks Tuesday in the governor’s spending blueprint.

Nor did it mean more money for the Seismic Safety Commission, which was denied a request for increased funding so that it could study earthquake safety in the wake of the disastrous Northridge temblor.

Even as the governor was predicting Tuesday that California’s growth will outpace the nation’s, he was outlining tax relief and cutbacks in state government spending.

The governor will submit his spending plan to the Legislature, where lawmakers will haggle over details before sending a budget bill back to Wilson’s desk for his signature.

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At the Seismic Safety Commission, no one was surprised by the $300,000 decrease in state funding recommended in Wilson’s budget. Most of the cutback, in fact, followed the commission’s own recommendation, said L. Thomas Tobin, the commission’s executive director.

Tobin said he and commission officials believed that they could get the job done this year with $1.6 million instead of the $1.9 million they received last year. Staff positions will remain steady, he said.

“The commission’s strategy is to advocate that agencies with responsibility for earthquake safety programs seek the funds and people necessary to carry them out,” Tobin said.

But the governor’s office did turn the commission down, he said, on a specific request for $350,000 in added funds to secure a federal grant examining lessons learned from the Northridge earthquake. Wilson’s staff has other plans for securing the grant, he said.

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At the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, less money will probably mean one fewer staff member, said Joseph T. Edmiston, executive director of the conservancy.

Wilson’s budget reduces the general fund allocation to the conservancy by a third--from $151,000 in the current budget year to $100,000 in the coming fiscal year. The conservancy’s total annual budget will be $578,000, compared with $629,000 last year.

Edmiston said he will be happy to get the $100,000, even if it is a substantially smaller allocation than last year’s. “The money will go a long way toward helping us,” he said. “We are very pleased to hear we got it.”

A bigger punch to absorb will be the loss this year of $10 million in annual funds from Proposition 117, a measure voters approved in 1990 to finance wildlife projects statewide.

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For five years, the proposition fund provided $10 million to the conservancy, which has responsibility for buying and protecting land in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Now that the fund has run dry, Edmiston and other environmental officials are setting their sights on a bond measure being drawn up for the 1996 ballot.

“We’re hopeful with the economy improving and with tax cuts that folks will be happy enough to support a bond,” Edmiston said. “Otherwise, a lot of pretty country will be developed.”

Wilson’s budget also includes a number of allocations for state colleges and universities:

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* At Cal State Northridge, $23 million is earmarked for an upgrade of the campus sewer, central plant, utilities and communications facilities. Nearly $1 million more is set aside for an indoor physical education facility.

* Antelope Valley College would receive $424,000 to buy materials for its recently built library, if the Legislature agrees.

* At Glendale College, $2.2 million is targeted for the purchase of high-tech equipment for biological science, fine arts and business labs in the campus’s multiuse instructional building.


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