|Trinity Standard - Local News
Stories Added - October 2008
Copyright 2008 - Polk County Publishing Company
Forest funds restored as part of bank bailout
Trinity Standard - October 2008
TRINITY – Last week’s congressional action to bailout the nation’s banking industry had a major side benefit for Trinity County – money for roads and bridges and money for local schools.
Trinity County Judge Mark Evans announced Monday that included in the massive $700 billion bailout were provisions to extend the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act.
“This was good news for the county and the county’s school districts,” Evans said, adding that the bill approved last week extends the program for four more years.
Last year the act provided more than $600,000 to the county, with half going to support the four precinct road and bridge operations and half being divided among the county’s school systems.
The money is intended to compensate the county and school districts for all of the untaxed U.S. Forest Service land located within their jurisdictions. Trinity County currently contains almost 68,000 acres of the Davy Crockett National Forest.
Prior to 2000, the U.S. Forest Service paid the county and schools a percentage of the revenue they generated from the sale of timber from the national forest.
The annual payments were never consistent from year to year and during the 1990s, a series of environmental lawsuits forced the federal government to curtail their timber harvesting efforts. This greatly reduced the amount of money going to the counties and school districts.
In 2000, Congress first adopted the Secure Rural Schools act, which created a consistent amount to be paid to the local governments each year.
The act was renewed once but it expired in fiscal year 2008 and attempts to have it renewed again met with strong resistance from President George Bush.
“Its amazing to me that so many people have been working on this for months to try to get it renewed and it was finally accomplished almost overnight with the bank bailout bill,” Evans said.
The renewal of the funds was first approved in the Senate version of the bank bailout legislation and Evans said supporters then worked hard to ensure the measure was included on the U.S. House side.
Evans said that because the financial chaos that resulted when the House first rejected the bailout proposal, when it came up again it was almost a sure bet it would win final approval and that the president would sign it.