Counties to discuss timber replacement money uses

Clallam and Jefferson county commissioners are reviewing how they spend federal money intended to replace declining timber harvest revenue.

Clallam County Commissioners discussed the issue during an Aug. 29 work session and scheduled it for another work session on Sept. 12, followed by potential action at their meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13.

Jefferson County Commissioners will discuss it at their meeting today.

The counties must get their decisions to the state treasurer’s office by Sept. 15.

The federal Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Program provides assistance to rural and school districts affected by the decline in revenue from timber harvests on federal lands.

Clallam County staff recommended allocating 85 percent of its money to Title I projects, which are roads and schools; 15 percent to Title II, which are special projects on federal lands; and zero percent to county projects rather than the current 1 percent.

Clallam County Chief Financial Officer Mark Lane said he would bring the issue back to a Sept. 12 work session and, based upon feedback from the school districts and other local governments, decide if they want to change those recommended percentages.

Jefferson County Administrator Mark McCauley said the county allocates 85 percent to Title I, 13 percent to Title II and 2 percent to Title III, and staff is recommending staying with those percentages.

“The discussion is centered around the distribution percentages between Titles I, II and III,” McCauley wrote in an email. “Discussing projects under Title II is not on the agenda though that might come up in the conversation.”

“Our share of Title I goes to public works for roads — we don’t tie these revenues to specific projects. We will discuss the importance of these funds to our road program. However, we haven’t used any Title III money in many years.

“Now, though, we are going to use some Title III to help complete Community Wildfire Protection Plans for our many communities. That is sure to come up in the conversation,” the email stated.

Lane told the commissioners at their Aug. 29 work session that he was recommending allocating zero percent to Title III because the county receives such a small amount of that money and it comes with strict limitations on how it can be spent.