Editor’s note: No, I’m not posting this editorial just to inflame Robin Stanley, thus prompting him to write a vigorous rebuttal and post it at this blog! (In my own view, we have a useful rebuttal already available here — namely, in the form of the three-part “moral analysis” of federal payments I posted last year.) My reason for posting this editorial is that it evidences very nicely, IMHO, the public education burden that still faces forested counties respecting their economic circumstances and well-being, and the importance to them of much-needed reforms in forest management and reinvigorated timber harvests in our national forests. If a newspaper in timber-rich Oregon is inclined to take this sort of swipe at forested counties, then one can only imagine what attitudes must be like in, say, Kansas or Ohio. Nick Smith’s great news service tipped me to this editorial’s existence this morning. Thanks, as always, Nick!
Oregon’s secretary of state performs biennial audits of the financial condition of the state’s 36 county governments, and the latest report is generally good: Four counties were found to be “at high risk of distress,” down from nine two years ago. A striking feature of the audit is that it shows how widely Oregon counties vary in economic and financial respects — and it suggests that the counties facing the worst financial struggles, including Lane, may find little sympathy in many parts of Oregon.
Lane County is one of the five that was removed from the high-risk category, Those remaining are Curry, Douglas, Josephine and Polk. Among the things the troubled counties have in common is low property tax rates — 59 cents per $1,000 of assessed value in Josephine County, 60 cents in Curry, $1.11 in Douglas and $1.72 in Polk. Lane County’s rate is $1.28, tied with Deschutes County for sixth-lowest in the state, less than half the statewide average of $2.82.