Friday, March 10, 2017

Association says counties were shortchanged over fed timber payments

The BLM illegally withheld federal timber payments from Douglas and 17 other Oregon counties, the Association of O&C Counties said this week. The association has asked the federal government to correct what it calls a "costly mistake" in calculating how much money those counties get. The association sent letters to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Oregon's congressional delegation Monday urging them to take prompt action. The counties receive 50 percent of timber receipts generated from harvests on 2.1 million acres of land formerly owned by the Oregon & California Railroad, and now owned by the federal government In Fiscal Year 2016, their share was calculated at $20.2 million, but the counties say the distribution in January was $1.4 million short. That's because the BLM argued it had to sequester 6.9 percent of the counties' share. It based that decision on the Budget Control Act of 2011. The association claims the sequestration is illegal. "These payments are required under federal law. They are not discretionary and not subject to sequestration under the Budget Control Act. We urge the quick action of Interior Secretary Zinke and Oregon's congressional delegation to address this issue and help prevent unnecessary county budget reductions," Freeman said...more

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