County Administrator Supporters: Ballot measure's death "not true yet"

County Administrator Supporters: Ballot measure's death "not true yet"
NORTH BEND, Ore.-- Coos County voters should be prepared to vote on changes to Coos County government this fall, but what kind of changes are still up in the air.

Right now a debate is looming on the Coos County Board of Commissioners between what, if any, government changes should be added to the ballot this fall for voter approval.

Coos County Commissioners Cam Parry and Fred Messerle agreed last Tuesday to draft an ordinance that would extend the current board of commissioners to five members, and those five members would then report to a county administrator who would over see all county departments.

The new board of commissioners would also make a $1,000 per month stipend for their service instead of a full salary like the current three commissioners.

Confusion came about late last week after there were reports that Messerle said his position on the office of county administrator was a staffing decision commissioners should make.

Messerle tells KCBY, he doesn't see it as an appropriate item to be placed on the ballot despite his support for the position of an administrator to be created.

"It is pretty obvious to me that we need a responsive and accountable administrative structure that can run the day to day operation," Messerle said. "As a commissioner, we need to be more concentrating on policy.... At this point and time, I tend to think that is a governance issue with the board and not appropriate to be put on the ballot."

But supporters of a ballot measure for county administrator say that is not the final nail in the coffin when it comes to deciding what will and will not be on the ballot this fall.

Commissioner Parry and Former Governance Committee Chairman Bill Grille tell KCBY that after a public hearing next month, Messerle will see that both changes belong on the ballot because they go hand-in-hand with each other.

"I will be surprised if there are not at least two votes to adopt the ordiance after it has its required two public hearings next month," Grille said.

Grille lead one of two committees last year that studied Coos County governance, and he has helped craft the legislation with Parry to change the current form of governement.

Parry tells KCBY that there will be a public hearing on the changes on August 3rd, and on August 17th there will be another public hearing before a vote is held on the ordinance.

Supporters of putting the measure on the ballot say reports that they have no other options of getting the measure on the ballot are "not true yet," and they are also considering circulating a petition to get the measure on the ballot once the public understands more about what is being proposed.

Getting public signatures on petitions is what Coos County Commissioner Bob Main has been advocating in his opposition to the changes.

Main who believes the current system of government is not broken says the issue of whether or not the people want to vote on the issue should be left up to the residents of Coos County and not in the hands of the current commissioner board.

Messerle and Parry do agree that any changes to board structure should be put to a vote of the people this fall. Whether a county administrator measure accompanies that on the ballot remains to be seen.

KCBY is committed to fair and accurate coverage of the changes to county government, and we will continue to follow the debate and ordinance as it moves through the required legal process.