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Public can testify on use of Gain Share funds

The public will have an opportunity to testify on how the Washington County Commission spends its Gain Share money at a supplemental budget hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

The commission scheduled the hearing during a recent work session on possible projects to fund with the money, which the state of Oregon pays to participating counties for waiving property taxes as a way to encourage businesses to create and retain jobs.

“As an elected board, we are identifying needs and priorities in the community that could be addressed — at least in part — with the county’s portion of Gain Share funds,” Washington County Chairman Andy Duyck said. “Going forward, we plan to give the public an opportunity to weigh in each year through a public hearing before a final decision is made.”

County staff presented several potential projects, totaling $13.9 million, for possible funding in the next fiscal year. They included the early stages of a new multi-use building at the Washington County Fairgrounds, seismic improvements to county buildings, information and technology equipment purchases, bike and pedestrian transportation improvements and grants to nonprofit organizations such as the Washington County Museum.

“This approach will allow us to continue treating Gain Share as one-time funds until there is greater certainty for the program from the Legislature,” said Duyck. “Our approach also allows our board to make our investment decisions more visible with the public.”

The county expects to receive approximately $111 million in Gain Share funds over the next six years, including the current fiscal year. Future funding depends on the Oregon Legislature retaining the program in its current form, however. Some legislators discussed reducing the payments from 50 percent of state income taxes generated by the new and retained jobs during the 2013 session, but no changes were made.

The hearing will be included in the weekly meeting that begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Public Services Building.



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