Add timber tax revenue to the list of revenue streams drying up for local, county and state government. A bad economy coupled with the burst of the housing bubble has spelled disaster for a once stable source of income for government. With lumber production projected to be down 55 percent from a record high in 2005 government sees one of its vital sources of income disappearing.
Harvest levels are at a 40 year low. Compounding that, the price for logs has fallen to a point that local, county and state timber sales are generating a fraction of the income that they did just two years ago. Government relies on those sales to support a variety of functions. Cities use them as a way to supplement their general fund or provide support for a capital improvement fund.
Dan Corgan, Contract Team Leader for the Oregon Department of Forestry said that timber sales both public and private are off about 50 percent from 2008.
The lumber and timber markets won’t come back until the housing market recovers. When that will happen is anyone’s guess. The market was dealt another blow when the Commerce Department announced recently that housing starts for March were the second lowest on record dating back to 1959 and were off 10.8 percent from February.
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