Hermiston Mayor David Drotzmann is voicing support for a proposed public-private partnership that will help local leaders around Oregon develop solutions for the state’s budget shortfalls.

According to a news release, the Oregon Funders’ Fiscal Health & Equity Circle was formed to “foster the civic knowledge and capacity to address Oregon’s fiscal realities in ways that cultivate trust in civic institutions, build bridges across cultural divides, and lead to equitable solutions supported by data.”

The participating foundations include Meyer Memorial Trust, North Star Civic Foundation, Northwest Health Foundation, United Way of the Columbia Willamette and The Women’s Foundation for Oregon. They have invested $300,000 in the past two years to fund research and engagement with community leaders. They hope to raise $200,000 more in donations and are also asking the state for $500,000 for the effort.

They are proposing a partnership with the state of Oregon to create nine regional workgroups that would work to create solutions and deliver proposals to the Legislature in 2021. Those proposals would address the difficulties faced by cities, counties and local governments facing constraints on their ability to increase their revenue in the face of rising costs of the Public Employees Retirement System.

Drotzmann said it has “become clear that the fiscal challenges facing rural communities cannot be solved only in Salem. We must engage leaders from local governments, school districts, Tribal communities, and culturally specific organizations to collectively develop the tools necessary to avoid 20 years of budget crisis. Our future depends on it.”

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