Department Finds $54 Million They Didn't Know They Had

OXNARD (CBS) — Ventura County officials and the city of Oxnard are demanding California refund tens of thousands of dollars they contributed to help keep a state park open.

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McGrath State Beach is one of 70 state parks facing closure because of the massive budget deficit.

Ventura County supervisors John Zaragoza and Steve Bennett convinced the county board to contribute $50,000 to pay for park repairs, so it could stay open for the summer.

Two weeks ago, the state parks department said they found $54 million they didn’t know they had.

“All of a sudden, where is this money? And all of a sudden, they find it now,” said McGrath State Beach visitor Donna Guillen.

Bennett said the situation accentuates the dysfunction at the state level.

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“For someone to have a fund like that to be set aside and they’re sitting there dealing with $100 billion worth of budget…somebody was asleep at the switch, that’s for sure,” he said.

Zaragoza said the money they asked for could have been given to other state agencies in need of funding.

“We took $50,000 that they could have used. And if the state has the money, we believe the money should be sent back to the community and to build their trust again,” he said. “Because I believe right now, according to the emails and phone calls I’ve had, they don’t have any trust in Sacramento because of that.”

This week, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution asking the state to refund their money.

Park visitor Bill Adler said he’s not asking for his $25 contribution, but the mysterious state funding isn’t a shock.

“Mistakes like this with the government don’t surprise me. I’ve never lost $54 million, but I’ve lost smaller quantities,” he said.

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On Friday, Governor Brown said he wants $20 million of the $54 million to keep McGrath State Beach and other parks open for the foreseeable future.