Honorable Governor Kate Brown
Office of the Governor
900 Court St NE, Suite 254
Salem, Oregon 97301
RE: $130 million American Rescue Plan Act Funding Request for Oregon’s Special Districts
Dear Honorable Governor Brown:
On behalf of [Insert District Name] I would like to thank you and your administration for your efforts to protect and assist Oregonians in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are especially thankful for the financial support that was provided to special districts from the first round of federal COVID-19 relief funds. Your allocation of these funds to our district helped address the critical needs of our community. I am writing to you to request a $130 million allocation from the State’s American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funding for Oregon’s special districts.
[Insert District Name] provides [Insert type of service(s)] to the people of [Insert name of community]. [Insert number of people] rely on our district to provide them with [insert description]. Our district and the community it serves have been hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. [Describe how your district has been impacted. Provide the estimated financial impact on your district.]
In your 10-Point Plan for Oregon’s equitable and rapid economic recovery, you specifically identified supporting resilient rural communities and investing in Oregon’s infrastructure. [Insert District Name] is essential for supporting our disadvantaged rural community. [Describe how you would use the funds to support your community, help your district financially recover and any infrastructure projects you would undertake.]
Based on a recent survey conducted by the Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO), Oregon’s special districts are anticipating a $562.3 million impact through this year due to the pandemic. More than half – 53 percent – will have reduced essential services provided to Oregonians while 35 percent will have reduced their frontline workforce through this year. All of the nearly 300 fire, rescue and emergency districts have felt some degree of impact due to the pandemic and anticipate ongoing effects as they provide first-response services to their communities, and Oregon’s port districts have taken a 20 percent hit on their annual operating budgets.
We are grateful that Congress has approved $2.628 billion for the State of Oregon and $1.5 billion for Oregon’s cities and counties, but unfortunately special districts – a large sector of Oregon’s local governments – have the potential to be overlooked during this distribution of Coronavirus Relief Fund monies. This year, SDAO, in partnership with the National Special Districts Coalition (NSDC), supported federal legislation which would have required states to allocate 5% of their relief funds to assist special districts. This bill had the support of Senator Wyden and Congressman DeFazio.
Congress provided a flexible solution to this problem in the ARPA, empowering states with authority to transfer Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery monies specifically to special districts. Accordingly, my district urges you to use this new transfer authority as intended to distribute a portion of your State Fiscal Recovery funding to Oregon’s special districts. Fortunately, a process was already created during the first round of COVID-19 relief funds to distribute funds to districts through DAS; we encourage you to utilize this mechanism in this next round of fund distribution.
As indicated in SDAO’s polling, the estimated fiscal impact to Oregon’s special districts is $562.3 million. We know this is not a reasonable amount to expect for special districts considering the State’s other needs, but we do believe that the 5% allocation ($130 million), as previously proposed at the federal level, is fair and reasonable, especially considering that cities and counties are receiving a direct allocation of approximately $1.5 billion. In many rural areas of our state, more citizens receive the majority of their municipal services from special districts rather than from cities or counties.
Thank you for your consideration of our request to secure a $130 million allocation from the State’s ARPA funding for Oregon’s special districts. Securing this support will relieve some of the financial stress felt by not only my district but over 900 local government entities in the state, especially in our rural communities. With the majority of special districts operating in rural Oregon, this funding is essential to maintain services and support community infrastructure.
[Insert District Name] is ready and excited to work with you as we continue to protect Oregonians and facilitate our state’s recovery.
Senate President, Peter Courtney
Speaker of the House, Tina Kotek
Senate Majority Leader, Rob Wagner
House Majority Leader, Barbara Smith Warner
Senate Republican Leader, Fred Girod
House Republican Leader, Christine Drazan
Ways & Means Co-Chairs
CRF Round #1 Legislative Workgroup Members