A key source of revenue for Lake Havasu could become a reliable resource again under a new law gaining prominence in the state capitol.
The State Lake Improvement Fund was once an important resource for coastal communities like Lake Havasu City. The idea was that cities with high levels of boat tourism could generate higher income to cover the extra costs they need. In Havasu, SLIF has helped the city fund its law enforcement efforts on the Bridgewater Canal in recent years, among other things. However, the more difficult economic times a decade ago put an end to that. The fund made grants to local government — in 2008 applications totaled $6.5 million — but the state swept all that money to balance the general fund. Like many specialized sources of funding, state leaders shifted the burden of payment from the state to local taxpayers.
Communities that depended on this money had to make important decisions: either pay for these items with their own money or wait. In Lake Havasu City, the local leaders chose a little bit Column A, a little bit Column B.
Thanks to a bill by state Rep. Leo Biasiucci, SLIF grants came back this year and have already contributed $1.6 million to local waterways — $800,000 for Lake Havasu City and $800 for Mohave County. The city used the grants to buy its first new boats for police and firefighters since SLIF funding ended 13 years ago.
Biasiucci’s new bill, which received overwhelming support in the House of Representatives, would ensure SLIF grants for coastal communities like Lake Havasu City flow back permanently. The bill provides that no more than 10% of monies paid into SLIF annually may be used by state parks employees to plan and administer the fund, while removing the wording that currently allows parks to use SLIF to pay for “Management and Recreation” Plans of the Board of Directors to use”. The bill would also expand the permitted uses of SLIF to include water search and rescue operations.
Lake Havasu is one of Arizona’s most popular travel destinations, and it’s not fair for cities and communities to shoulder the sole financial burden of maintaining and operating it.
SLIF should be restored permanently. It’s good for Biasiucci and the House to understand how important this funding is to local communities. We hope the State Senate and Gov. Doug Ducey agree.
— Today’s News-Herald