The John Day City Council continues to seek assistance from Grant County to help cover the cost of the Fourth Street repairs.
The city council and budget committee approved the city’s budget for fiscal year 2021-2022, which includes anticipating $400,000 from the county to cover the match cost of a $1.2 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The budget approved by the budget committee will be published in the Blue Mountain Eagle on May 28 with a notice of a public hearing on June 8, which will be the last hearing for final review and adoption of the budget.
“If the county declines this request, we will need a loan for this amount to complete the project,” John Day Manager Nick Green said in the budget message.
The estimated cost to repair Fourth Street, which was damaged by flooding in 2019, is $1.6 million, according FEMA’s scope and cost report.
FEMA will cover 75% of the cost with a 25% match required, $398,281, according to a letter sent to the county from Green on April 1.
Green said, if the county declines to help, the estimated $400,000 loan for 25 years with 3.5% interest results in a service obligation of $23,200 annually.
With the debt obligation, Green said the budget will not balance and there will be a deficit in the Street Fund for the upcoming fiscal year of $11,865.
“We’ll have to correct that deficit through reductions elsewhere,” Green said. “The way we got to that deficit and not a larger one is we zeroed out street maintenance. If we have to take out a loan to do the Fourth Street repairs project, we have zero dollars in our street maintenance budget for (fiscal year 2021-2022) and a deficit.”
The council’s and committee’s decision to have the budget account for funds from the county means that if the county does not provide the money, both groups will meet again in July to create a supplemental budget for the loan.
The window for the project to be constructed is July 15 to Aug. 31 this year.
Councilor Paul Smith said the council has gone to the county several times verbally and through emails with no response from the court regarding the Fourth Street repairs.
“The first time we presented the project it was in October during a study session at the airport, and they indicated at that time they were willing to work with us,” Green said. “We have not had any correspondence since then on this subject.”
Councilor Shannon Adair said they needed other residents who are not on the city council to talk with the Grant County Court about the project.
“I said this over and over, but Fourth Street serves as an arterial to the Grant County Regional Airport, and I will emphasize ‘Grant County,’” Smith said. “We’re in this together.”
Councilor Elliot Sky said, if there are problems between the city and the county, they need to tell the city so the problem can be addressed and fixed.
“I think they need to be reminded of the water and the fiber that’s going into communities that are not ours ... and remind them that the way this community was created in the first place by ranchers and farmers and business owners working together,” Green said. “We’ve moved away from that into this weird, internecine conflict between government agencies that makes no sense at all. Personalities may be a part of the problem, but we need to get over it.”