ENTERPRISE — In a nearly record-short about 7½-minute meeting, the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners handled largely routine money matters, including applying for a $500,000 grant to help with low-income housing, during the board’s Wednesday, April 21 meeting.
The board authorized Commissioner John Hillock to sign an application for the grant under the 2021 Community Development Block Grant Program.
Hillock explained how the grant works.
“As part of my duties of being on the board of Community Connection — generally we partner with other counties — the money’s used for low-income housing improvements,” he said. “The way they set it up in the past is we get this grant from the state, it goes into a revolving loan fund and, say we go do some work on a senior citizen’s house, they would get a loan on that, but there’s no money due payable until the house is sold or the person is deceased. … It’s a way to get money out to low-income people to do repairs on their homes.”
He said Wallowa County usually partners with neighboring counties. This year, Grant County decided to sponsor the grant. Last year it was Union County and Wallowa County has done so in the past.
“Unfortunately, not a lot of the seniors are taking advantage of it in Wallowa County,” Hillock said. “They seem to be using it in Grant and other counties more than they are here.”
He said some homeowners seem reluctant to take a new lien on their homes, even though it’s not required to be repaid until the house is sold or the homeowner dies.
“A lot of people don’t want to put a lien on their house,” he said. “But it would be advantageous” for various projects homeowners might need done, such as roof repairs or a septic system.
Hillock said one advantage to the county is that unused funds can be rolled over from year to year. As a result, the county has a considerable fund for senior housing, although he didn’t know the exact amount.
In other routine actions, the commissioners approved:
• A plan of action for the county to satisfy the state audits division.
• The receipt of a $39,000 grant from the state to use for a trailer for its recycling program.
• A transfer of $25,000 to use for weed spraying.
• A transfer of $250,000 to buy out the lease the county held on a road grader used by the road department.
The transfers were to place county funds already on hand into the line items where they’ll be used.
The commissioners also:
• Accepted the resignation of Deputy Kevin McQuead from the Wallowa County Sheriff’s Office. McQuead was sworn in earlier this month as Enterprise police chief.
• Hired Jean Jancaitis to handle planning and building codes.