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LEBANON — State. Rep. Phil Barnhart, D-District 11, introduced legislation Monday that would help Linn County bridge a funding gap for the new veterans home under construction here.

The Veterans Administration originally estimated the cost of the project at about $30 million and Linn County had agreed to provide a match of about $12 million.

The county paid $1.5 million to purchase two acres from Samaritan Health Services and also kicked in $10.5 million generated by a 19-cent tax per $1,000 of property valuation.

Recently, the Veterans Administration informed the county the cost of the project — which is a unique home-like design — has been upped to about $40 million, which will require more local matching funds.

The county’s position is there is no more money and that Linn County residents showed their good faith by passing a levy during extremely difficult economic times.

“All of the members of the Linn County delegation are very interested in getting this going,” Barnhart said. “This is one of those situations where the local people, like Commissioner Roger Nyquist, know what is needed and have done the work to bring it to our attention,” Barnhart said. “We want to get this moving forward.”

The bill would allow the State Treasurer to issue up to $10.5 million in lottery bonds to be dedicated toward the Lebanon and proposed Roseburg veterans home projects.

“The Legislative Assembly finds that the use of lottery bond proceeds will create jobs, further economic development, finance public education ...” Barnhart noted in the bill.

Nyquist said the commissioners believe “It is imperative that we get the necessary matching funds the federal government requires to keep the project on track as planned.”

Nyquist said he is encouraged by the support shown by the entire local delegation.

“I’m confident they will do their best to get this taken care of,” Nyquist said. “It has bipartisan support and Rep. Barnhart sits on the debt advisory committee.”

The new veterans home will have about 154 beds, constructed in home-like units. It will also include an Alzheimer’s care unit.

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Alex Paul is the Linn County reporter for the Democrat-Herald. He can be contacted at 541-812-6114 or alex.paul@lee.net.

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