Updated

Coos County, along with 18 other Oregon and California counties, will be receiving timber payments that were withheld by the federal government earlier this year.

The Association of Oregon and California Counties recently reached a compromise with the Department of the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget over $1.39 million dollars in withheld money from timber receipts.

The federal government owns timberland in the Oregon and California counties that the selloff was to be logged. Half of the money from the sale is supposed to be given to the county where the timberland lies. However, this year the federal government withheld 6.9 percent of the half they were supposed to give to the county.

“We used to get 75 percent of the O&C receipts,” Coos County Commissioner Bob Main said.

Coos County, which contains approximately 6 percent of these federally owned timber lands, was shorted around $82,000 this year.

“All of the money we’re getting back will go into the general fund,” Main said.

Twenty-five percent of the timber lands are located in Douglas County, so they will be receiving $350,000 in funds sequestered by the government.

The Bureau of Land Management oversees the sales of the 2.1 million acres of Oregon and California timberland.

The AOCC has been working with the Department of the Interior since March to get the withheld funds released to the respective counties.

Funds were withheld as part of a government wide sequestration of 6.9 percent of all spending. Federal statutes require sequestration when total government spending exceeds certain budget caps. The amount of spending is determined by the level of government spending compared to applicable budget caps. The sequestration for the fiscal year of 2016 was 6.9 percent.

AOCC argued that because timber sale receipts are placed in a special account in the U.S. Treasury, which was set up in 1916 for the benefit of the 18 Oregon and California counties, timber payments are not considered ordinary government spending. Therefore they shouldn’t be subject to sequestration in the usual way.

OMB was convinced by AOCC’s argument, and decided last week to release the withheld funds. 

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