LANE COUNTY, Ore. — It appears Oakridge will get the short-term bailout it needs to avoid bankruptcy.
The Siuslaw Bank has agreed to loan Oakridge $500,000 and Lane County Commissioners, though hesitant, say they’ll do what’s needed on their end to make the deal work.
The Siuslaw Bank will give Oakridge a tax-anticipation note of $500,00 to keep Oakridge afloat until property tax revenues arrive this fall.
But first it wants the county’s word that the county will repay the loan once property taxes are collected. The county’s job would be to collect taxes due to the City of Oakridge and send the payments to the Siuslaw Bank to repay the loan.
The paperwork is set to be filed on August 17.
But all of the county commissioners made it very clear they’re not happy about the decision to bail Oakridge City Administrator Gordon Zimmerman and Oakridge out, especially considering the fact that Oakridge residents at the meeting asked the commissioners not to help.
But the board chair says he feels a responsibility to step in because if the board doesn’t, Oakridge would have to file for bankruptcy and wouldn’t have money for police and ambulance services.
“It’s a little short-sited to limit the services to that area so drastically, if we weren’t to approve to where you’d have to live off your cigarette tax,” said Jay Bozievich, Lane County Commissioner.
“What if a month from now you need an ambulance, is that person going to die in their community because they didn’t get the life safety help? Is their house going to burn down because you don’t have a fire department?” said Faye Stewart, Lane County Commissioners’ Chair.
“I appreciate it, very much so. Any help we can get is what we need to get right now,” said Gordon Brown, Oakridge City Manager.
The loan will only get Oakridge through until December.
Zimmerman says that’s enough time for him to complete the audits, which are two years behind, and for him to make $150,000 in cuts.
He has already laid off eight people.
In the meantime, an accountant is coming in next week to do an internal audit of Oakridge’s books.