Posted: Thursday, February 28, 2013 4:28 PM
GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) -- The Legislature is working on bills designed to help rural timber counties that go broke if taxpayers refuse to fill the gap left by declining federal logging revenues.
The idea is to make it possible for counties like Curry and Josephine to declare bankruptcy, merge with other counties, and for the state to step in with financial help and essential services, such as elections.
Roseburg Republican Rep. Bruce Hanna says timber counties are facing tough times, and it is important to discuss options to help them face their fiscal problems.
Rural counties in timber country were able to keep their taxes low for many years because of generous revenues from logging on federal lands. But logging cutbacks cut into those revenues, and a fiscal safety net has expired.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
Posted By: Marilyn On: 3/2/2013
Title: Disturbing wording
I am disturbed by the wording in this article. "help rural timber counties that go broke if taxpayers refuse to fill the gap left by declining federal logging revenues." Really? Refuse to fill the gap?
The federal government owns over 60% of Coos County. There are severe restrictions on land development, for what remains in private ownership.
How are these rural counties supposed to maintain a viable economy when there is no land available on which to base it?
The federal government is even proposing to increase its ownership of land in Coos County, taking much more land out of productive circulation, with faint and completely inadequate promises of future revenues to compensate. But they are only looking at property tax revenue loss when they compare their feeble promises to compensate for tax revenues lost. They do not include the loss to the overall economy at the local or state level due to the loss of jobs currently supported by the land held in production. Take the land out of private ownership, take it out of production, fail to compensate for lost jobs, fail to compensate for lost tax revenues, then remove even the paltry promised income - and speak of "refusal to fill the gap?"
This was not a fiscal safety net that expired. This was compensation for land confiscated. If the federal government cannot keep its promise, then the federal government should give up the land.