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Guest commentary 

Proposed charter would be more costly to public; simple math reveals health benefits, travel costs all add up to make county administrator expensive
  By TOM MALLAMS  Guest Writer 1/19/14
     As a citizen and as a county commissioner, I have always welcomed and encouraged citizen participation in government. This is what motivated me to run for the office of Klamath County commissioner.

   Doing your homework and being absolutely straight forward with your facts is one critical element that is absolutely necessary while being actively involved.

   The supporters of the proposed county charter seem to be lacking in the fact-gathering process. This mistake will have direct detrimental effects on Klamath County if this proposed charter goes forward.   The “author” claims she “will not put something on the ballot that will cost more money.” She also claims that this proposal will “still save money with health benefits and travel benefits from home.” A very simple look at the facts will show this is completely false.

   Follow the basic numbers:

   Current total cost of three full-time commissioners — $290,112.  

   • Proposed three part-time commissioners’ salaries — $72,000.

   Proposed cost of full-time county administrator — $200,000.

   Proposed cost of lowest priced medical benefits — $27,900.

   Proposed cost of additional travel costs clearly allowed within the proposed charter stated in section 13c — $37,000

   At this point, the proposed charter already costs $46,788 per year more than the current status.

   According to other counties, additional support staff is needed for a full-time county administrator above and beyond current commissioners staff, would be estimated at $136,000.  

   The claims of cost savings clearly do not exist. The simple math shows an additional cost to the county tax payers of $182,788 per year. Once again, you have to do your research and your homework. The next question to ask the author of this proposal would be “do you still intend to put this proposal on the ballot since you stated you would not do so if it would cost more money?”

   Remember also, with this large additional cost, Klamath County still would be left with three part-time county commissioners.

   Another statement made by the author of the charter attempt was “all like counties have administrators … and commissioners not necessarily full time.”

   In Oregon, there are seven counties of similar population base. Only two of these counties have county administrators with individual administrator costs averaging approximately   $190,000 per year, very similar to this proposed charter. The glaring difference is that all of these counties still have fulltime commissioners. The majority of counties that do have   three part-time commissioners have a population base of less than 12,000 citizens where Klamath County has approximately 67,000 citizens.

   The proposal supporters attempt to make a comparison between Jackson and Deschutes counties, which both have administrators, verses Klamath County without an administrator. Again, they neglect to point out that both Jackson and Deschutes Counties have full time County Commissioners.

   If a county does have a very strong county administrator, running the county as a large successful business corporation, what have the citizens given up in return? A recent local example will demonstrate this very clearly.  

   A proposal was recently made to shut down seven of Klamath Counties transfer sites (dumps). With direct citizen input to the full-time Klamath County commissioners, an agreeable compromise was reached and all seemed satisfied with the results.

   With a strong business oriented county administrator in place, looking strictly at the financial impacts, and part time commissioners, the end result would likely be drastically different. More than just seven transfer sites would likely be closed with very little if any interaction available to the local citizens.

   There would not have been any compromise developed and the citizen/decision maker interaction would not have happened. Some dollars would have been saved but at what cost and is this the kind of relationship you desire to have with county government?

   I also have been asked the question, since two attempts to recall current commissioners completely failed, is this proposed charter nothing more than another attempt to “recall” the current board of county commissioners? Each reader of this commentary will have to answer that question for themselves.  

   For myself, I will continue to do the job that I was elected to do and that is to serve the citizens of Klamath County during this controversial historic time.

   Thank you for allowing me to serve you, the citizens of Klamath County.



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