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Congressional representation on issues

July 11, 2008, Ridin Point, by Siskiyou County Supervisor Marcia Armstrong

At a recent Board of Supervisorís meeting, Congressman Hergerís Field Representative Dave Muerer told us that Herger "has not weighed in on dam removal in Siskiyou County." Muerer stated that he is trying to "be deliberative and analyzing the requirements of ESA and the agencies' power and authority." Muerer did acknowledge that Herger recognized that "local government has a critical voice and that he does not take lightly the unanimous position of the Board."

I, for one, am very disappointed that the Congressman appears to be sitting on the fence. That means that he is not fighting on our behalf on this important issue. He is apparently reluctant to take a stand to prevent the negative and potentially hazardous impacts that dam removal would have on the human health, property, fisheries, recreation and economy of Siskiyou County. You can call the Congressmanís local office at 530-893-8363 or e-mail him at http://www.house.gov/herger/contact.shtml

Board members asked Muerer about several issues. One concern was the climbing cost of fuel, (including winter heating oil.) A recent USA Today article highlighted the impact of gas prices on the frontier communities in my district and how astronomical prices are seriously affecting the elderly and low income people. The Board and County Superintendent of Schools Kermith Walters talked about Congressís failure to reauthorize the Secure Schools and Communities Act. This resulted in an annual $9 million loss of revenue for local schools and roads. The money backfilled Siskiyou County for the loss of the 25 percent share of federal timber receipts when harvest was curtailed under the Northwest Forest Plan.

The Board also expressed concerns about PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes.) The federal and state governments pay no property taxes. (The state government has ceased to pay any consideration at all to the Counties for the loss if tax revenues of their lands.) The federal government pays PILT. This is a formula based on the limited value of federal lands in the early 1900s when the National Forests were created. (As an example, in fiscal year 2005, the federal payment to the County was $0.37 per acre. If these lands were taxed they would return about $1.48 per acre to the County.) Congress does not always appropriate the full amount of money to pay for PILT. (The average is 60% of funding.)

Muerer indicated that Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon will be introducing a bill  entitled the Security and Energy for America Act that would include the continuation of County payments, funding of PILT and additional fuel heating assistance. It also funds grants for alternative energy, (wave energy, solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower and cellulosic energy.) In addition, it has a technology training component and funding for offshore fisheries habitat enhancement. Muerer indicated that Herger is looking for common ground in bills such ast the SEA Act.

The Board of Supervisors indicated that it would like to re-cement closer contact with the Congressmanís office and communicate at Board meetings regularly with Mr. Muerer. It was also brought to the Boardís attention that Hergerís web page has opportunities for constituents to receive updates on a variety of issues. http://www.house.gov/herger/


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