According to State Representative David Gomberg late last week, the state formally announced news that because lottery sales are down this year, we will be unable to issue the bonds they normally guarantee. That will affect 37 projects spread all over the state, from Enterprise to Lakeview to Gold Beach to Astoria - -and particularly here in House District 10.
In order to sell bonds, the state has to show a 4-to-1 ratio between forecasted Lottery Fund revenue and the amount of debt in the bonds. That has not been a problem since the lottery was established in 1984. But the Lottery said earlier this month that sales for April were off by 90% compared to the year before. The loss has left the state with a Lottery Fund bonding ratio of just over 3-to-1. Since it was not possible to do a partial sale, the entire bond program was cancelled. What that means is that local projects, long-planned and critical to our health, our economy, and our lifestyle have been lost and will need to re-apply in 2021.
· Newport Dams – Among the most seismically vulnerable dams in the state, they were scheduled to receive $4 million to begin an $80 million replacement effort. You may recall that when the Governor considered vetoing the funding and placing us on a list of dam projects, I went to her and successfully argued our earthen dams were more at risk and needed to begin work now. Without bond funding Newport will have to wait or seek other funding sources.
· Oregon Coast Aquarium – One of the big wins of the last legislative budget was $5 million to build Oregon’s only wildlife rehabilitation center here on the central coast. This was the foundation for a number of improvements and expansion plans for the Aquarium which is a major economic driver in the region. Now we’re back to square one.
· Lincoln City Cultural Center – Transitioning the old Delake School and playground to a city plaza on Highway 101 has long been a dream for those who understand that the structure is central to arts and culture, tourism, and the retirement experience in the region. I was proud in 2019 to bring home $1.5 million needed to move this critical project forward. Without those dollars, the Center is scaling back plans and delaying construction as we look for other money.
Simply put, this is a ten million dollar hit to our local economy that could not have come at a worse time. I’m devastated. But Gomberg said he is also determined to go back to work in January and re-earn these crucial investments.
The good news is that non-lottery funding commitments have survived. A $1.5 million seismic rehabilitation grant for the Sheridan Fire Hall that I facilitated is moving forward. With the help of $1 million squeezed into the budget and concessions from State Parks Representative Gomberg requested, a needed emergency egress for Neskowin that is on track. And Oceanlake Elementary School in Lincoln City received nearly $2.5 million for emergency services and seismic retrofits.