Douglas County to decide on Home Rule


The fourth time's a charm?

That might be true for residents of Douglas County who are hoping to pass a ballot measure that would see "home rule" be put into affect for the county.

The November 7 ballot will include a home rule charter for voters to vote down or pass. This will be the fourth time the county will vote on the issue in the last 20 years.

Home rule, essentially is a constitution for an area to set up its own government. While all counties in the state of Oregon must follow the guidelines and provisions in the state's constitution, home rule allows for a more local approach and allows counties to take actions as long as they do not violate state statute. Counties without homerule are considered General Law counties are are restricted to the statutes found in state law.

The home rule charter on the November 7 ballot would change the county's government from its current form.

The board of county commissioners would go from a three-member board to a five-member board. Those five members would no longer be "at-large" commissioners but districts would be formed and each commissioner would represent a certain district. Commissioners would also give up their salaries in exchange for a monthly payment--reported at $500--that would be dependent on their attendance at public meetings. They would also be considered part-time rather than full-time.

Currently, Douglas County is run by the county commission. and while that won't necessarily change under home rule, the ins and outs and details to running the shop will fall to a county manager.

Douglas County does not currently have a county manager and opposition to the home rule charter site the common government structure as a way to take responsibility away from elected officials and give them to an unelected--but hired--manager.

The charter, which is available to view on the county's website, notes that the manager cannot have previously held the office of a county commissioner for Douglas County or an employee of the county. The manager would be hired for an undefined term and serve at the pleasure of the board of county commissioners.

In total, nine counties around the state of Oregon have passed a home rule charter in the form of a ballot measure. Nearly 20 other Oregon counties have voted the issue down.

If approved, the charter notes that it would go into effect 60 days after being approved by voters of Douglas County.

It will appear on ballots as Measure 10-159


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