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On Nov. 6, 2012, by a 58 percent - 42 percent vote, citizens of Coos County rejected local measure 6-144 "Create County Administrator." So what’s been happening in the ensuing 6-plus years?

First, the Coos County Board of Commissioners created a Finance Director position, and moved all but the statutory job requirements of the previous Treasurer there. This action all but eliminated the Treasurer's position.

Once the Finance Director was elected County Treasurer in November 2016, additional supervisory duties of payroll and accounts payable were added. Compensation was set by the BOC for the new Finance Director/Treasurer; who now makes $90,000-plus per year. The old Treasurer position paid $57,000. At the same time the Human Resources department was folded into the County Counsel office.

Last year the BOC created a new mega department called Public Works, consisting of the merger of Solid Waste and the Road Department. The former Road Superintendent became the new Director of Public Works with a $1,000-plus per month raise. This year, Public Works swallowed up Parks, with 25 percent of the Public Works Director's time devoted to Parks.

The trend line is slow, but inescapably points to a gradual, but inexorably move toward an eventual massive consolidation of county departments into a few mega groups. If the conversion continues you’ll see future additional duties assumed by these mega departments.

The Finance Director/Treasurer would likely evolve into a mega Human Services department. Departments that could easily transition would be Coos Health and Wellness, Human Resources, Assessor, Clerk, Elections, and Veterans.

Public Works could ultimately absorb Planning, Surveyor, County Fair and Forestry.

The Sheriff, District Attorney and County Counsel would probably remain independent, but make up the third mega department Public Safety.

Created out of need for operational efficiency, these three mega departments, allotted one per BOC member, would in reality setup the creation of a County Administrator position. The impetus: the BOC’s desire to lighten their workload.

If implemented, you’d have to hand it to the BOC. Not only are they creating one, possibility two levels of separation between themselves and the departments they now supervise, but created a scapegoat to insulate them from future political backlash. The tragedy will be the transformative way citizens interface with county elected officials.

Steve Scheer

Coos Bay

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