Officials of the three counties meet face-to-face
- Bill Sheehy
- Central Oregonian - News
Everything from a possible regional landfill, rental of jail space and formation of Resource Advisory Committees were the focus of the meeting
Members of the Crook County Court sat down with their counterparts from Deschutes and Jefferson counties this week to discuss various issues that concern all three.
Crook County Judge Scott Cooper said the meeting was helpful. "Mike Daly (Deschutes County Commissioner) and I met awhile back and began talking and discovered we had a different understanding on the subject of a regional landfill. We decided to get together face to face. It)s a good thing to do, once in a while. We hear from staff and others but getting it from the horse)s mouth helps."
The range of topics discussed went beyond the regional landfill proposal and included SB 1608, the so-called "Safety Net" legislation, funding for the watermaster and the agreement with Jefferson County for jail space. For a long time, each county has contracted with Deschutes County, the county of record, for the watermaster)s service. Because of liability, that county)s officials have decided to end that practice. Counties will have to contract directly with the state. Cooper said that change should have no effect on the watermaster)s services. "At least we)re told we won)t see any difference."
The goal of the Congressional Safety Net legislation was to stabilize federal payments to counties near the levels they had received in the past as forest receipts payment. One part of the legislation, similar to the original forest revenues payment will go directly to the countys roads and schools. As the original timber receipts were earmarked only for roads and schools, on a 75/25 split, so are the safety net funds.
Another part of the new payment plan sets aside 15 to 20 percent of each county)s total for improvements in the national forest. These funds would be used on the advice of local RAC)s (Resource Advisory Committees). Discussion with the other counties commissioners, Cooper said, pointed out their differences. "Everyone has a different perspective but we talked about formation of the Ochoco/Deschutes RAC. That won)t be a problem," Cooper added, "but filling our commitment to the Willowa/Whitman RAC could prove problematical. We have to qualify one member of the 15 member committee for that."
Crook County is seeking members of the public to sit on these committees. RACs are being formed for each of the six Bureau of Land Management districts in Oregon and for combinations of National Forests throughout the state.
According to federal law, each RAC is to consist of 15 members and six alternates, representing three different interest categories. The US Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior will make the final decision for appointments.
When the subject of a regional landfill came up, Daly informed the group that Knott Landfill in Bend will be closed down in the next eight to 12 years. Developing a regional landfill is an ideal solution, but when the question of where to site one came up, Cooper said "all discussion stopped short of saying in Crook County."
However, the county judge said he thinks the county should go ahead with plans to acquire property on Millican Road, "on the chance that we need it for a landfill or for the gravel that)s there, which is a present need."
Although a draft agreement has been produced for renting bed space in Jefferson County)s new jail, Cooper said a few things need to be worked out. The county court has scheduled a meeting for Friday morning to discuss the proposal.
Applications being taken for membership in the Ochoco/Deschutes RAC are now being taken.
The composition of each RAC (Resource Advisory Committee) is to be balanced according to three interest groupings:
Category one -
developed outdoor recreation, off-highway vehicle,
energy and mineral development
commercial timber industry
federal grazing permit holders within the RAC
Category two -
nationally recognized environmental organization
regional or locallly recognized environmental
dispersed recreation activities
archaeological and historical interests
nationally or regionally recognized wild horse or
Category three -
state-elected office holders
county or local elected office holders
American Indian tribal representatives withint or
adjacent to RAC areas
school officials or teachers
citizens representing the affected public at large
Anyone interested in applying for RAC membership are encouraged to contact Cooper at 447-6555. The deadline for applying is Feb. 26