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May 30, 2023
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Coronavirus Relief Fund CARES Act, Title V – Cares little so far for Rural Oregon

Commissioners call for Governor Brown to direct our fair share of the 1.635 billion in CARES Act funding intended to assist local government entities

Coronavirus Relief Fund CARES Act, Title V – Cares little so far for Rural Oregon

Jackson County Commissioners call for Governor Brown to direct our fair share of the 1.635 billion in CARES Act funding intended to assist local government entities in Jackson County for financial impacts from COVID-19.

[Jackson County, Oregon] — The United States Department of the Treasury has released an initial $1.635 billion to the State of Oregon for local relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Based on their populations, the City of Portland, as well as Multnomah and Washington Counties, received hundreds of millions of dollars directly, while Governor Kate Brown is tasked with distributing the remaining funds to smaller cities and counties in Oregon.

“The cities, counties, businesses and people in Oregon have done an amazing job of doing what they have been asked to do in order to meet the statewide guidelines put in place by Governor Kate Brown,” shares Jackson County Commissioner Colleen Roberts, “Jackson County has been doing our part on our own dime with the anticipation that the first wave of the Coronavirus Relief Fund CARES Act, Title V funding would be reallocated to local governments in our county as intended by Congress.”

In a recent conference call that included the Jackson County Commissioners and the Governor, it became apparent that these funds were not being distributed, leaving every city and county besides the large metro areas without help from this first wave of relief funding. “The City of Portland, Multnomah County and Washington County received their money and we should be receiving some as well,” says Commissioner Rick Dyer. “At a recent Zoom meeting I asked Governor Brown directly if she intended to distribute the rest of the funds to local governments including Jackson County. Even though she acknowledged the desperate need for the funding, she expressed no intention to provide it.” 

Jackson County is experiencing large losses in revenue since the shelter-in-place order, which includes but is not limited to:

  • Community Justice - Loss of approximately $27,000 per month due to reduced fees brought in for federal beds, transitional housing, work release, supervision, home detention and more.
  • Development Services - Estimated loss of over $300,000 per month due to the reduction in building permit and land use applications submitted.
  • Fairgrounds and the Expo - Estimated loss of almost $800,000 due to canceled events, camping revenue and more.
  • Health and Human Services - Loss of approximately $20,000 per month in Animal Services due to reduced adoptions and donations; and approximately $15,000 per month in Public Health due to reduced immunizations being provided.
  • Roads and Parks - Approximate loss of over $1,609,000 through June based on Oregon Department of Transportation's gas tax estimates; in County Parks, an estimated loss of $190,000 per month from March through May, and $150,000 per month from June through September.
  • Sheriff - Estimated monthly loss of over $116,000 due to reduced traffic fines, impounded vehicles, and concealed handgun licenses.

Additionally, Jackson County is seeing unbudgeted expenses due to COVID-19, which include but are not limited to:

  • Approximately $45,000 of additional IT equipment needed to support the Emergency Operations Center and provide physical distancing by telework, telecare, and virtual meetings.
  • Over $50,000 per month is being spent to provide additional janitorial services and supplies, including protective equipment and sanitizing supplies.
  • Labor costs directly related to COVID-19 are expected to be well over $1,475,000.

While the Jackson County Commissioners are working with State and Federal legislators to ensure equity for rural and smaller cities if there is future funding, they are currently urging the Governor to allocate the current funding more appropriately. “This assistance was partially intended for local governments. It is not acceptable that a few chosen metropolitan jurisdictions receive funding while rural areas are left to fend for themselves. Our citizens deserve better,” says Commissioner Bob Strosser, “Local government has and will continue to incur costs in our response to the coronavirus and desperately needs this funding to effectively respond and recover going forward.”

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