By Court Boice, Curry County commissioner
We’re all often less informed than we should be — citizens are interested in the future of our county, I ask all to take the time to read the referenced bill.
If governed by responsible commissioners, it simply allows our county the potential for sound business options. It is not “Boice’s plan.” It is, however, a precise new and helpful law sponsored by state Rep. David Brock Smith. I worked with him to design it for Curry County. During the 2017 legislative session, his HB 3435 passed both the Oregon House and Senate with unanimous and strong bipartisan support, then was quickly signed by the governor.
The bill extends a means for our communities to solve health care, economic, infrastructure and a variety of local problems.
As most know, our county has 42 different taxing districts. Often they need better financial terms to fund needed projects.
HB 3435 allows the Curry County Board of Commissioners to specifically loan to any taxing district, i.e., libraries, rural fire departments, cities and, yes, possibly the hospital district. It could also be helpful for restructuring a taxing district debt. Generally lower interest rates of between 2 to 4 percent can be incentives to assist our district’s. Any loan from the road fund reserves would come with rigid guidelines within this new law and are secured through that district’s (borrower) annual taxing revenues.
Further, the $33 million in the Curry Road Fund Reserves are, of course, receiving generally less than a 1 percent return. It’s essentially been that rate for years, and this bill could present better investment options.
As commissioner, my attitude and responsibility is to fiercely protect those road funds, however I recognize that under this new law, there will likely be projects and proposals that will come before our commission board. If the need is justified and demonstrates a reasonably low risk, then I will take a serious but careful look at those in consultation with fellow board members.
Please keep in mind, that in the event of a major natural disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) would step in to aid our county. Most will recall that happened following the Harbor sinkhole.
That positive conclusion was also primarily due to the persistent efforts of Smith, who made certain the federal government followed through with its responsibility and they did. Very little county road reserves were expended for that disaster.
As a commissioner, I think one of my main focuses should be on the primary health-care issue facing our county. I believe it is absolutely imperative that Curry Health Network (CHN) get the South County emergency room open and robust and as soon as possible. It’s one of the main reasons I decided to run for commissioner, as 60 percent of our population, for the most part, is without close emergency medical services and that’s beyond unacceptable. This would not be a matter of Curry Health Network — or any taxing district — tapping into the Curry Road Fund Reserves.
Incidentally, no representative from any taxing district has, as of this date, approached me. However, it does present future options for the commissioners to make legitimate lower-interest loans for the long-term benefit of, and for better serving, our citizens.
Curry County has a new multi-million dollar-hospital that is state of the art and the envy of many in Western Oregon. Is it perfect? No, but show me a hospital anywhere that is.
I have watched very closely and can report that Curry General and our Curry Health Network are very well-managed and simply need citizen support and market share. If that happens, they’ll thrive and we’ll all receive long-term benefits.
It is also my opinion South County citizens do not need to pay or join any present or future health care taxing district. Think for a moment of those citizens with the burden of traveling 25 miles in either direction to Sutter Coast Hospital in Crescent City or Curry General for their medical emergencies and other needs. I believe they should not have to bear the additional cost of paying into a health district — that’s fair.
Gold Beach does pay into the CHN district, however residents there don’t travel — that’s also fair. Port Orford citizens pay into the district and also have to go 25 miles — that’s not fair. Maybe our North County friends should receive some sort of discount when they travel to Curry General for their medical needs. Wouldn’t that be fair?
Do you sense some logic, rationale and a chance for our county to come together? I hope that’s your vision and is, I believe, how we’ll ultimately overcome through serious problems. In my view, segregating our communities by Zip code is a disaster in the making.
Again, I ask all Curry Citizens to help unite our county.