YOUR GOVERNMENT: Marion County Commissioners to hear update on federal wildfire recovery funds

The Marion County Board of Commissioners meets Wednesday to hear the first update on the county’s wildfire recovery housing program. 

Matt Lawyer, senior policy analyst for the board, will provide the update. Commissioners last year accepted $12 million of federal money from Oregon Housing and Community Services for the program. 

The funds are intended to pay for recovery work in the Santiam Canyon and help residents displaced by the 2020 wildfires. The board said at the time that the work could include buying homes, acquiring land for affordable housing development and providing supplies for volunteer housing construction.

To participate

The commissioners meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday, March 6, in the Senator Hearing Room at 555 Court Street N.E. Anyone can attend or sign up to give public comment in-person at the meeting. People who want to comment must sign the speaker list at least ten minutes before the meeting. The meeting is streamed live on YouTube.

Health and safety

Commissioners will consider expanding a contract with an insurance agency for services covered by Oregon Health Plan, the state’s publicly funded Medicaid program. The agreement allows the county to be reimbursed for health care provided to people insured through Medicaid.

If approved, they would consider accepting $26 million from PacificSource Community Solutions. That would bring the county’s contract with the agency to about $88.2 million.

The board will consider accepting around $5.4 million from the state Department of Transportation for safety improvements at the intersection of Northeast Ehlen and Butteville Roads, including building a roundabout. The intersection is near the city of Donald.

The state agency awarded federal funding for the project that is provided to Oregon counties and cities for improvements intended to address known road hazards. The contract would span through March 2029.

Commissioners will also consider adding about $16,000 to a contract with the Oregon Health Authority for operating public health services. The new contract would total about $10.5 million.

The new funding would help pay for public health emergency preparedness and response, according to the agenda item. The state agency provides the county federal funding for such services.

New equipment

The board will consider buying a CAT 3024 Material Handler from Peterson Machinery for around $497,000 to replace a backhoe at the North Marion Recycling and Transfer Station.

“Due to increasing volumes and load sizes that are being brought in, the backhoe has become an inefficient tool for the waste handling process at the site,” according to the agenda item

They will also consider a $102,000 contract with Dirt and Aggregate Interchange, Inc. to replace a guardrail on a portion of Northeast Sunnyview Road. The project is the first in a five-year plan to improve what Marion County officials described as substandard guardrails throughout the county.

Also on the agenda

Commissioners will consider a $175,000 contract with WB Creations, LLC to provide a recruitment plan for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. 

The board will consider providing $150,000 to the Oregon Garden Foundation to help pay for capital improvement projects and operational costs.

They will also consider adopting an ordinance to continue property tax exemptions for new rural industrial properties that meet certain conditions under state law. A previous ordinance expired in January.

Commissioners will consider appointing Lore Christopher, Jolene Kelley and Melessa Villoria to the Marion County Compensation Board for terms spanning the rest of the year.

The board is made up of three to five citizen members who are “knowledgeable in personnel and compensation management,” according to the agenda item. Under state law, the board must review compensation paid to elected officials each year and determine whether adjustments are warranted.

Commissioners will consider approving proclamations designating March 2024 as Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, as well as Problem Gambling Awareness Month.

Contact reporter Ardeshir Tabrizian: [email protected] or 503-929-3053.

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Ardeshir Tabrizian has covered criminal justice and housing for Salem Reporter since September 2021. As an Oregon native, his award-winning watchdog journalism has traversed the state. He has done reporting for The Oregonian, Eugene Weekly and Malheur Enterprise.