La Grande offering grants for drive-thru windows

LA GRANDE — The city of La Grande has set aside $30,000 in grants to help the town’s restaurants install windows for drive-thru or pickup.

“This is a program designed to help restaurants provide better access to customers now and in the future,” City Manager Robert Strope, stated in a press release.

The grants can be for up to $7,500 and are a one-to-one match. Restaurants in La Grande’s Urban Renewal District are eligible. Those in the city’s Historic District may need additional approval from the Landmarks Commission if they apply.

Applications are available at ignitemybusiness.org/en/blog and will be considered until Dec. 31, 2020, or until funds run out.

Deschutes County files complaint over marijuana tax revenue

BEND — Deschutes County has filed a complaint against the state over marijuana tax revenue the county believes it should be paid, despite its moratorium on marijuana processing and growing facilities.

The county’s legal department filed a complaint in state tax court against the Oregon Department of Revenue, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and Department of Administrative Services.

Marijuana tax revenue has not been paid to the county since the Deschutes County Commission placed a moratorium on approving new marijuana processing and producing facilities in August 2019. And in November, residents voted to uphold the moratorium.

But, a county only receives the tax revenue if it allows all licensed recreational marijuana activity to happen in the county, according to Mark Pettinger, a spokesperson for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

In response to the legal complaint, Pettinger said Friday, Dec. 18, the commission did not have a comment “because it’s a legal matter.”

Before the moratorium, the county was receiving about 4% of the revenue from the state’s marijuana revenue fund that goes to counties. If the moratorium was not in place, the county would have received roughly $514,000 from December 2019 to this September, said Richard Hoover, a spokesperson for the state Department of Revenue.

The county is asking the state to declare the statute does not preclude Deschutes County from receiving its disbursements from the state’s marijuana tax revenue fund, given that the moratorium and the opt -out election did not impact existing marijuana-related facilities, according to the court filing.

The Department of Administrative Services and the Department of Revenue did not respond to requests for comment.

Willamette Valley farms on hook for back wages

SALEM — Three area farmers have been ordered to pay more than $11,000 in back wages after denying paid sick leave to employees who were advised to self-quarantine following COVID-19 exposure.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division ordered Coleman Agriculture in Gervais to pay seven employees $8,878; St. Joseph Orchard Inc. in McMinnville to pay four employees $1,820 and J Farms LLC to pay one employee $720, the Statesman Journal reported.

The paid sick leave is required by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Act gives tax credits to businesses with fewer than 500 employees for employee paid leave for the employee’s health needs or to care for family members.

It wasn’t immediately known if the farmers can appeal the order.

— EO Media Group

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