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Metro agreement gives commissioners option to request an additional $2 million if needed

Clackamas County commissioners approved a $3 million advance from Metro to fund supportive housing services (SHS) on Tuesday, July 20. Per the agreement, the county will have the option to request an additional $2 million in SHS funding if needed.

At a June 29 policy meeting, County Commissioners Paul Savas and Martha Schrader originally suggested requesting the advance from Metro in order to move forward with affordable housing projects and to ensure the survival of four housing services previously at risk of being discontinued due to an unexpected funding shortfall.

Clackamas County's shortfall resulted from a delay in $24 million worth of anticipated tax receipts from a business and personal income tax passed last year by Metro voters to raise money for SHS. Instead of $24 million on July 1, the board only received $150,000. On May 18, the county was alerted of five total housing services at risk of being defunded or discontinued due to this delay.

Four of the five at-risk services ran out of previous funding on July 1, so the county board has been using Clackamas County funds to keep the services afloat while they negotiated this advance agreement with Metro.

Metro's $3 million will get the county board started on a ramp-up plan to increase SHS funding based upon tax revenue trends they will review quarterly. If the revenue flow from taxes is trending upwards, the board plans to recalibrate and increase SHS funding based on those trends.

In Savas and Schrader's initial presentation on June 29, they suggested leaving an option open to request an additional $2 million from Metro in the event that tax revenue was trending upward but the board only approved a motion for a $3 million advancement that day.

Before approving the advance, Savas revisited the idea of keeping the $2 million option open, but some board members including Chair Tootie Smith had not anticipated requesting anything above the $3 million that they previously approved. Savas' reasoning for asking to lump the $2 million into the $3 million advance was so that the board didn't have to go through another laborious process if they needed the extra funding down the line.

"We agreed to $3 million coming forward. That's what I was prepared to do today. Now all of a sudden, we're at $5 million, which I would have appreciated, seriously, a heads up. If we wanted $5 million, then why didn't we do $5 million?" Smith asked.

County commissioners decided to table the discussion until later in the afternoon, giving staff time to contact Metro to work out the details of the $2 million option. County Counsel Stephen Madkour returned that afternoon to update the board that Metro had agreed to the "last-minute" request.

"Metro was very gracious and accommodating and did agree to up to $5 million," Madkour said. "You can get your $3 million right now with the terms that we had discussed beforehand, and you could do a call at your discretion on the other $2 million."COURTESY PHOTO - Metro's Newell Creek Canyon in Oregon City has seen an increase in environmental damage due to illegal camping.

Madkour added that the board was not required to commit to the extra $2 million yet, the agreement simply gives them the option to request it later if needed.

The board unanimously approved the agreement, and Smith applauded staff for their quick work.

"Thank you staff for your very quick turnaround," Smith said. "I appreciate it very much, what you were able to do."

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