Cash-Strapped Timber Counties Get Spending Flexibility

Mar 6, 2012

SALEM, Ore. -- Oregon lawmakers have passed legislation to help six southern Oregon counties that are near insolvency. The bill allows the counties to dip into money currently socked away in road maintenance funds. Amelia Templeton reports.

The bill helps a group of timber dependent counties in Oregon. A federal program that used to compensate the counties for lost timber sales expired this year.

The legislation gives counties permission use their restricted road reserves to fund sheriffs’ patrols. The bill now goes to governor Kitzhaber for his signature. David Itzen is a Curry County commissioner on the South Coast. He says the flexibility will be helpful.

Itzen: “It just gives us another tool the toolbox more or less to address our current financial crisis.”

But the bill doesn’t allow road funds to be diverted for any other services. So the Curry County jail may still have to close. And Itzen says Curry county could still go insolvent. Itzen hopes a proposed county sales tax will help close the rest of the gap.

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network