Lincoln County is running short of money
Possible loss of $5.8 million of federal funds
May 25, 2007
Without the reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act, the county's budget is going to shrink, and shrink big. To Lincoln County, that is a loss of $5.8 million.
Rural counties, including Lincoln County, have historically received a share of the logging revenues from federal land, like the 2-1/4 million acre Kootenai National Forest. As the logging industry and economy have declined, in 2000, Congress passed the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, which tied payments to the county to past logging receipts.
But now, the future of the program that provides hundreds of millions of dollars nationally to rural counties is in a dispute between the House and Senate over the cost and structure of a multi-year program, resulting in Congressional leaders failing to agree on a multi-year extension of the program.
The program expired last September, after six years.
That leaves Lincoln County in a financial jamb and could force a cut in county public services. 15% has gone to the Kootenai Forest Resource Advisory Committee. The remaining 85% has been split 1/3 schools, 2/3 to the invested road fund. The schools can fall back on a permissive levy for continued funding, which will increase individual taxes.
While the hope was for a five-year extension, attached to the new version of the Iraq appropriations bill, the House agreed to only a one-year extension, retroactive to last October and ending this coming September.
President Bush vetoed that bill because it set a timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq, and thus Bush scuttled the attached extension of the program.
All of which leaves the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self Determination Act in limbo, without resolution on the horizon, and Lincoln County strapped for cash.
Story by KLCB 1230 AM Libby News Radio, www.todaysbestcountryonline.com