CONGRESSIONAL INACTION JEOPARDIZES MALHEUR COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICES -- (House of Representatives - March 08, 2007)
Mr. WALDEN of Oregon. Mr. Speaker, the failure of Congress to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act will have an extensive and extreme impact on more than 1,800 local governments that receive ``Payments in Lieu of Taxes'' funds, also known as PILT. The loss of the county payments program means these counties can now apply for the limited PILT fund, thus reducing funds to counties reliant on PILT, and many counties will see a 20 percent reduction.
For Malheur County, Oregon, which is nearly 10,000 square miles and is 72 percent under Federal ownership and is larger than the States of Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, it can mean real problems.
As we all know, rapid response for emergency services is a life-and-death issue. In many areas of Malheur County, it can take well over an hour to respond to a situation. Loss of critical PILT funds will mean a reduction in vital public services, and that is unacceptable.
County Judge Dan Joyce, who is in Washington today, says loss of PILT funds will devastate our ability to respond rapidly in emergency situations. I call on the new Democrat majority to move H.R. 17. Services are being lost. Libraries are closing. Teachers are being given notices they won't be rehired. It is time for action.