Legislature looks for ways to help struggling timber counties

The Legislature is working on bills designed to help rural timber counties that go broke if taxpayers refuse to fill the gap left by declining federal logging revenues.

The idea is to make it possible for counties like Curry and Josephine to declare bankruptcy, merge with other counties, and for the state to step in with financial help and essential services, such as elections.

Roseburg Republican Rep. Bruce Hanna says timber counties are facing tough times, and it is important to discuss options to help them face their fiscal problems.

Rural counties in timber country were able to keep their taxes low for many years because of generous revenues from logging on federal lands. But logging cutbacks cut into those revenues, and a fiscal safety net has expired.

— Jeff Barnard, Associated Press

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