LA GRANDE — Union County may receive a CARES grant in the next year.

The $13.12 million 2020-21 general fund budget the Union County Board of Commissioners adopted Wednesday includes an appropriation for a Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act grant of up to $750,000. The appropriation was not included in the 2020-21 spending plan the county’s budget committee approved on May 20 because it was not known if the county would receive a CARES grant.

Since then, though, the likelihood of Union County receiving a CARES grant has become much greater, said Shelley Burgess, the administrative officer/budget officer for Union County.

The state will decide later when and how to distribute federal CARES funds to counties. Burgess said having the CARES grant in its budget will put Union County in a position to quickly accept and receive it.

Union County would have to adhere to U.S. Treasury Department guidelines when spending the CARES grant money.

The addition of the grant in the budget means the county’s budget in 2020-21 will be about 5% greater than the current year’s budget.

Despite these rosy numbers, there are potential clouds of concern on the horizon because the fiscal impact the COVID-19 pandemic will have on Union County is not known at this time, Burgess said.

Burgess said it is likely the state could reduce the revenue it shares with counties. These could include less Oregon Llottery and gas tax revenues. Lottery funds may be down because games such as video poker were rarely played because restaurants and bars were closed for most of the past two months. Video poker proceeds go to the Oregon Lottery.

Lower motel tax collections also could hit Union County because people are traveling less, Burgess said.

The primary sources of revenue for Union County are property taxes, which make up 48% of it and the payments in lieu of taxes it receives from the federal government, which provide 10% of its revenue. ILT payments compensates counties for declines in shared income from timber sales on federal land.

General assignment reporter

Beats include the communities of North Powder, Imbler, Island City and Union, education, Union County veterans programs and local history. Dick joined The Observer in 1983, first working as a sports and outdoors reporter.

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