The county’s water-quality monitoring program is done-ski: No more money from the state. The county, which has a $4 billion annual budget, has not announced any plan to pay for the program itself.

But if county supervisors decided to, where could they find the money?

The county’s five supervisors annually distribute some $13 million in taxpayer money to schools, business groups and art organizations around the county. Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, more than any of her colleagues, has earmarked the money for organizations run by campaign supporters. A 2005 San Diego County Grand Jury report found that each supervisor’s personal priorities, not the county’s needs, determined where the funding went.

Tapping that money, one supervisor alone could fund water-quality monitoring. Dianne Jacob earmarked $300,000 this year for a synthetic turf football field at Mount Miguel High School, for example.

Or they could work together: Ron Roberts directed $80,000 to the San Diego Air and Space Museum to move an Atlas 2E rocket from Gillespie Field to Balboa Park; Bill Horn sent $10,000 to reimburse the Fallbrook Rotary Club for a September event called “Lobster on the Green;” Greg Cox pushed $7,000 to the Malashock Dance Club to buy and install a printer/copier; Slater-Price reimbursed $200,000 for a San Diego Opera performance that had already occurred; and Jacob gave $7,453.87 to Helix Charter High School to help buy a new football field scoreboard.

That’s one opera, one printer, one rocket relocation, one football scoreboard and a lobster dinner. Or a year’s worth of coastal water quality monitoring — with $2,453.87 left over.


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