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July 02, 2008
Loss of Timber Revenues Forces Cuts to County Budget
CLATSKANIE, Oregon (STPNS) -- With the failure of the United States Congress to pass legislation to continue funding provided by the ?Secure Rural Schools & Community Self-Determination Act of 2000,? Columbia County is facing the loss of $2,275,000 in federal timber revenues.
While the county commissioners adopted a budget Monday, June 30, that included those revenues, they met with department heads last week to discuss the need to cut the county general fund budget due to the loss of those timber revenues.
If last ditch efforts in Congress to restore the funding are unsuccessful, the commissioners asked all departments to be prepared to reduce their budgets by 10 percent. The cuts will mean a reduction of services and the elimination of approximately 10 positions through attrition.
After many attempts by Oregon?s federal delegation, Congress failed to pass legislation to continue funding provided by the ?Secure Rural Schools & Community Self-Determination Act of 2000.? This legislation provided payments to 24 of Oregon?s 36 counties as a result of the loss in logging revenues from timber harvests on federal lands.
?The loss of these revenues means we will still be doing business, but we won?t be doing business as usual,? said Columbia County Commissioner Tony Hyde. ?There is no magic bullet that can fix the impact that the loss of these funds will have. We?re hoping that between now and Oct. 1, when the new federal fiscal year begins, that something positive will happen, but Oregon state law requires that we start our new year with a balanced budget. Our new year starts on June 30, 2008, so we have to move ahead.?
According to Ruth Baker, finance director, the $2,275,000 was used to cover general operations of the county, as well as the sheriff and road departments, Columbia County Fair, food bank, public transportation contributions and other non-mandated services that the county provides.
For additional information on the Columbia County budget and the budget process, interested persons may contact Commissioner Hyde at 503 397-4322 or Ruth Baker, county finance director at 503 397-7252.
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