'Safety Net' counties following debt ceiling talks closely

'Safety Net' counties following debt ceiling talks closely

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- The fight over the national debt ceiling could have a big impact on Douglas County, as well as other counties that are dependent on the safety net money due to lack of timber harvesting on federal lands.

County commissioner Doug Robertson says they don't really know how they'll be affected by what comes out of the negotiations in Washington, but he knows it could be bad.

"Our concern of course, would be focused on things like the secure rural schools, county payments, probably because those sorts of programs are targeted in rural resource dependent communities, and not particularly well understood by congress," he said.

The other big worry: the grants, like those that fund most of the drug enforcement team at the sheriff's office and other law enforcement programs in the county. "We're very concerned about all of those sources of  federal dollars being potentially on the chopping block," he said. "Again, we don't know, but we're very concerned about it."

Robertson says it will make passing the county payments bill a lot tougher, and if it doesn't get passed the county reverts back to the O&C timber harvest formula that pays the county for timber harvested on federal land.

That would mean even bigger cuts for county departments that have already seen huge cuts in the last few years.