County Commissioners WEEK OF JUNE 21-25, 2021

WEEK OF JUNE 21-25, 2021

The recording of the June 23 meeting was not available at the time this update was written, due to YouTube taking it offline for including medical misinformation. That meeting can now be viewed at this link. Future live-streamed meetings will be available on the County Website.  Previously recorded business meetings are now available at this link. Workshops and other business meetings will be available in audio format at this link.

The following summary is for the June 22 Legal Update session.

Josephine County is heading in the wrong direction, say the elected officials leading the direction in which the county progresses. 

Commissioners Darin Fowler and Herman Baertschiger were asked several survey questions by County Counsel Wally Hicks after a briefing in an executive session with the state forestry department. Commissioner Dan DeYoung was absent.

When asked “whether you think your area is heading in the right direction,” Fowler and Baertschiger said they were heading more toward the wrong direction than the right direction. Baertschiger blamed cannabis for steering them off the rails. 

When asked to describe the current financial health of their jurisdiction, Fowler said the county is struggling and blamed an electorate that doesn’t want to fully fund their government. “We’ve learned to live with that,” he said. Because of a constituency that routinely votes down taxes “we can’t do a lot of proactive planning for future stuff.” 

Baertschiger blamed the federal government for the county’s financial woes. “The federal government holds about 75 percent of all the land in Josephine County and is just flat not contributing, The taxpayer not paying their fair share is the United States government so that’s why we’re struggling.” When asked if they expect to fund for their jurisdiction to increase or decrease, they said decrease and blamed inflation. 

The questions then veered toward assessing the health of the timber industry in the county.

They said it’s currently a fraction of what it could be. Baertschiger said when he started logging in Josephine County in the 1970s there were 13 mills. “We have zero mills in Josephine County now.” He said. “It’s like living in a grocery store and starving to death.” He added. The next question asked how they would describe the services they provide to taxpayers. 

Fowler said they provide the basic things they can without frills. Baertschiger agreed. 

Then they were asked to rank education, health care, infrastructure and economic development in order of most needed in the county. After a contemplative few seconds, Fowler rated infrastructure first, economic development second, education third and health care fourth. Baertschiger agreed. 

Then, asked if they received money as the result of a timber lawsuit would they be more likely to initiate a new program or augment a current program. Fowler responded by saying “we don’t grow government here in Josephine County, we don’t have the luxury so it would be augmenting an existing program. 

Baertschiger agreed without comment. When asked what new program they might start if they had the money, Fowler said since improving broadband is taken care of with COVID rescue money, he would provide more money for public safety, infrastructure, parks.

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