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Investing in Our Communities

As the chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, one of my most important jobs is to ensure that we spend public resources in ways that best benefit our residents.

Not only does that include county property tax revenues, but outside funds as well.

Due to the 2021 passage of the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the county was allocated a total of $81.2 million. A condition of receiving those dollars is that the county is required to spend them by the end of 2026.

In early October, the board voted to approve $29 million of those ARPA funds towards a variety of projects all over the county.

The single largest investment was in libraries. We approved $9 million for the Oak Lodge Library and $6 million for the new Gladstone Library project, for a total of $15 million. I was among those in attendance for the demolition of the old Gladstone City Hall, which will be the location of the new library facility.

But that wasn’t all.

The board voted for $4 million in critical infrastructure work, in the form of stormwater repairs. That will result in the replacement of culverts, reduction of flood hazards and drainage improvements in multiple areas.

We put $4.8 million towards a multipurpose facility at the fairgrounds in Canby. That was after we had already built out the livestock barn there, using $10 million with shared funds from the legislature. This will serve to enhance livestock opportunities for area youth who participate in 4H programs.

Another previous use of ARPA funds will result in Clackamas County having the largest Oregon State University extension service in the state. The total cost of this project is $20 million. That comes from a combination of ARPA dollars and general obligation bonds that will be paid back over time.

Once completed, the extension service will emphasize sustainable vegetable, fruit and crop production, as well as cooking and preserving. This is especially important, given the skyrocketing cost of food.

And even though we’ve now made it possible for several critical projects to get started or move forward, the county still has over $12 million of those ARPA funds remaining. This will allow us to identify any possible priorities that may arise over the next four years that we have to spend those dollars.

Whenever possible, I’ve made it a point to maximize the county’s share of those ARPA funds. I’ve also sought to leverage funds provided by the members of our legislative delegation. Under my leadership, the county secured significant state funding to replace our outdated courthouse facility. Rising construction costs caused us to get creative and develop a public-private partnership to ensure that we could capitalize on that allocation of state funds.

So as you can see, many important projects will be taking place throughout the county over the next few months. They represent the board’s commitment to investing in worthwhile projects that will improve the quality of life for county residents for years to come.