Clark County plan: Add commissioners, cut pay

Clark County's three current commissioners: Tom Mielke, David Madore and Steve Stuart, March 25, 2014. (KOIN)
Clark County's three current commissioners: Tom Mielke, David Madore and Steve Stuart, March 25, 2014. (KOIN)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — A group of elected volunteers called the Freeholders wants to change the Clark County charter by adding commissioners, cutting their pay and creating a county manager position.

Currently there are three commissioners – Tom Mielke, David Madore and Steve Stuart –  each making about $106,000 a year. The proposal would cut their pay to $53,000, but add two more commissioners.

Clark County's three current commissioners: Tom Mielke, David Madore and Steve Stuart, March 25, 2014. (KOIN)
Clark County’s three current commissioners: Tom Mielke, David Madore and Steve Stuart, March 25, 2014. (KOIN)

Madore, who has been in office for 18 months, made no apologies after the announcement of the new proposal for what he called a more business and development friendly county. However, Madore’s agenda, including the killing of the Columbia River Crossing, the elimination of fees that pay for park maintenance and the controversial hiring of state Senator Don Benton to head the county’s environmental services division has also created enemies.

This proposal though would diminish each of the current commissioners’ authority. The new position of county manager would become the leader.

There are 15 people on the Board of Freeholders, five from each of three districts in the county. They were elected to “draft a home rule charter specifying a form of government for Clark County.”

Temple Lentz is part of the Board of Freeholders and finds the work of the current commissioners “embarrassing,” making this proposal necessary.

“It’s actually a community movement that we’ve seen a lot of things in the county lately that not a lot of people are happy with,” said Lentz.

Madore said the proposal would limit commissioners’ ability to directly help constituents with problems, and come election time, reformers will find out what voters really think.

“Who is complaining that we’ve removed the park fees and added lifeguards in the process and not raised taxes? And whose got rid of permit fees for job creators?  Who’s talking?  It’s not the citizens, they’re cheering,” said Madore.

The Board of Freeholders’ hopes to have the proposal qualified for the November ballot later this spring Clark County voters to decide on the matter. The board will be dissolved either when a new charter is completed or no later than Dec. 31, 2014.

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