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State works on aid for timber counties

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — 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 bills would make it possible for counties like Curry and Josephine to declare bankruptcy, merge with other counties, tap revenues from other counties and taxing districts, and for the state to step in to run essential services.

One bill (HB 2206) would allow revenues from other counties and taxing districts to be skimmed to pay for services in counties declared by the governor to be in a fiscal emergency. It would also allow the secretary of state to take over elections from the county clerk. Another (HB 3404) would let counties that got federal timber county safety net payments amounting to 10 percent of property tax revenues to draw on a special fund the next two years. Another (SJR 10) would let counties propose a levy that goes beyond statewide property tax limitations. known as Measure 5.

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