Oregon set to receive $2 million in COVID funds

Kelly J. Kaczala

        Oregon City Council on Monday established a new special revenue fund to accept federal funding from the American Rescue Plant Act.
        The federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which establishes the Local Fiscal Recovery Fund, will allocate $130.2 billion in funding to local governments for COVID-19 pandemic relief.
        The U.S. Department of the Treasury will administer the plan. Oregon should receive its first of two distributions from the state within 30 days of the state receiving its payment. The second distribution will come 12 months after the first distribution.
        Oregon must agree to specific terms and conditions set forth by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as part of accepting the funds. Part of the terms and conditions reference the recording of receipts, expenditures and transfers of the funds.
        The special revenue fund will allow for revenues from the American Rescue Plan to not be co-mingled with other funds.
        “Ultimately, we will create the fund so that when we spend the dollars, it will ensure appropriate transparency,” said City Administrator Mike Beazley.
        The funds provide resources to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and its economic impacts through four categories of eligible uses:
        •To respond to the public health emergency or its negative economic impacts;
        •To respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers;
        •For the provision of government services, to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  This is in relation to revenues that were collected in the most recent full fiscal year, prior to the emergency;
        •To make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.
        It is estimated that Oregon will receive a total of $2 million though the state. The first distribution, estimated at $1 million, will be paid as soon as administratively feasible. The second distribution is to occur 12 months later.
Less revenue
        “Initially, the federal government had provided us with an allocation of about $4 million,” said Beazley. “The state legislature cut that in half. Those dollars are going to be shared with townships. We’re going to end up with $2 million. We haven’t received anything yet. Our income tax revenue has declined. From 2019 to 2020, it was by $4.7 million. We’re affected by particular industries that have had a challenging year. We’re hopeful things will bounce back.”
        Beazley said he thought the two refineries, located in Oregon, were getting stronger.
        “We’ve seen gasoline go back up, fuel is coming in a little under historical demand, but gasoline and diesel are coming in stronger. We’re hoping for some stability in one of our largest sectors – the hospitals. They had a challenging year. It was busy, but not necessarily profitable. It was just an unusual year with different surgeries getting canceled. Our general intention is to use this to make up for the dollars that didn’t come in last year, and, to a certain extent, this year, as we go through it. We can continue to keep our reserves adequate and spend our dollars on community service needs.


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