MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Jefferson County Public Health is reimbursing over $45,000 in Environmental Health License fees that were paid for 2020 due to COVID-19 impacts on local businesses.
The Jefferson County Board of County Commissioners unanimously voted on July 29 to refund all fees related to restaurants, mobile food trucks, seasonal camps, RV camping parks, swimming pools/spas, hotels/motels and vending.
The refunds were delivered to several businesses Tuesday, with others receiving them early next week. The average reimbursement is about $600, depending on the type of business.
According to Chair Kelly Simmelink, the need to support local businesses during COVID-19 was a priority for the board.
“As the Board of Commissioners, we are out there all the time listening to our community and businesses. We hear that all of their bills remain the same, but the governor’s orders to limit the numbers of people coming in makes it difficult to meet those costs. As a board, we’re doing all we can to lessen that impact and help Jefferson County businesses keep moving forward.”
Many businesses in Jefferson County that have adjusted to operating under COVID-19 guidelines have found it difficult.
When discussing those difficulties, Commissioner Wayne Fording adds, “As a business owner, I understand that permits and fees are a normal part of doing business. However, these are not normal times. With this COVID impacting us locally, I thought that we as commissioners had to do more to show our support during a very unusual time.”
The Board of County Commissioners will revisit the 2021 permit fees later this year, to determine the ability to support local businesses based on the impacts of COVID-19.
“It is truly a blessing to be in a position that allows us to help our businesses. You will not find this type of support in many other communities.” said Commissioner Mae Huston of the decision.
Upon receipt of their hand-delivered checks, Christy Young, owner of Madras Bowl & Pizza said “We are most grateful to the county for returning our health license fees for this year! Thank you for remembering we are still hanging in there. Emotional times for sure."
Joe Davis, owner of Black Bear Diner, was very pleased when Commissioner Fording showed up to tell him, “it’s a small thing we can do for our business owners during these tough times.”
Davis went on to say, “Wow, it will definitely help a lot, because in December, it’s always a big chunk to pay out, thank you very much! I am sure everyone that received a check was just as delighted as I was. All these little things make a big difference. Folks think that just because the doors are open and we are seating customers, that things are back to normal – not by a long shot!”
Thank you, Wayne Fording, Jefferson County Commissioner, for being a great leader in our community and setting the example by wearing his face covering while hand-delivering Environmental Health Fee reimbursement checks to our local businesses.