MEDFORD, Ore. — Officials with Jackson County are calling on Governor Kate Brown to distribute CARES Act funding to local agencies, claiming that the only major funding distributed so far has gone to Oregon's urban areas.
“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,” said 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.”
According to the County, $1.635 billion from the CARES Act went to Oregon for local relief efforts. Hundreds of millions went to the City of Portland, Multnomah and Washington counties directly — but Governor Brown is responsible for distributing the rest to less populated cities and counties in the state.
“The City of Portland, Multnomah County and Washington County received their money and we should be receiving some as well,” said 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 has seen significantly fewer cases than areas around Portland and Salem, but County officials say they've seen major financial expenses from the coronavirus response regardless.
The County listed the following areas as sources of lost revenue:
- 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.
Jackson County also listed the following unbudgeted expenses due to COVID-19:
- 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.
“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,” said 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.”