Roseburg (KMTR) – Oregon state representatives are talking strategy with Douglas County officials as they look to fill the county’s budget gap left by discontinued federal timber payments.
At one point, timber reserves provided the county with close to $20 million yearly, or 70% of its budget. Most of that money could disappear soon, due to federal budget cuts.
Oregon House Co-speaker Bruce Hanna, State Senator Jeff Kruse, and State Representative Tim Freeman, all Roseburg Republicans, met in a roundtable discussion Monday in Roseburg. Most participants agreed that new taxes are not the way to go.
“Specifically, in counties that are least-dependant on O.F.C. funding, their first response tends to be, 'Oh, well just raise your taxes.' Well, great. Even if you did, it doesn't make up the difference,” Said Hanna.
There is an option being considered to make up for the lost funds using a timber trust that would lease timber lands to a private company for harvesting. However, that plan is two years away.
The group believes budget cuts are most likely option for now, and most stressed that city services could handle cuts more easily than county services which support rural areas.