Proposed Charter Amendment Measures
The Washington County Board referred two measures to the voters on July 28 that, if passed, would amend the Washington County Charter:
If the proposed measure passes, it would establish an independent salary commission to set salaries for each member of the Board of Commissioners, replacing the current method for setting salaries described in the Charter. The commission would be appointed by the Board of Commissioners and would be made up of five human resource professionals with experience in compensation. On odd-numbered years, the salary commission would establish by majority vote the salaries of the Board Chair and District Commissioners and would document the basis of their decision. If the measure passes, this approach would be similar to how non-charter counties establish elected officials’ salaries as found in ORS 204.112. If the proposed measure does not pass, the current language of the Charter would remain and the salary of the Chair and District Commissioners would be tied to the salary the state establishes for circuit court judges. Either way, tax rates would not change.
If the measure passes, it would authorize deletion of language in the Charter that prohibits the County from 1) holding a hearing about a land use ordinance before March 1 and 2) adopting a land use ordinance between the first day of November and the last day of February. If the proposed measure does not pass, the current language of the Charter would remain and the County would continue to be prohibited from holding land use ordinance hearings before March 1 and from adopting land use ordinances between November 1 and the last day of February of each year. Either way, tax rates would not change.
Background on the Charter
Washington County operates under a "home-rule" Charter, first adopted by the voters in 1962. Home rule means that the voters may establish the basic form and structure of county government rather than use the structure provided by state statutes. Numerous separate amendments to the Charter have been approved over the years, the most recent being in 2014.
Among other things, the Charter divides the county into four commissioner districts. Voters in each of these districts elect a commissioner to represent that area of the county. A fifth commissioner, the County Chair, is elected countywide.
In 2007, the Board of Commissioners appointed a charter revision committee that recommended several changes to the Charter that were later referred to and adopted by the voters in November 2008. Among these changes were provisions to set the Board Chair’s salary at 80% of the salary of a circuit court judge and set each District Commissioner’s salary at 40% of the amount received by the Chair. This is the portion of the current County Charter (Section 30) that would be amended by proposed Measure 34-300, if the measure passes.
Land Use Ordinance Adoption
Since 1987, the Charter has prohibited the County from holding land use hearings before March 1 and from adopting land use ordinances between November 1 and the last day of February of the next year. The restricted schedule (Section 103) was the result of several Charter amendments adopted by the voters in the 1980s, including those requiring notifications to landowners about proposed land use ordinances or changes to comprehensive plans. More information about the current process for proposing and adopting land use ordinances, including notifications the Charter would continue to require, can be found on this Department of Land Use and Transportation webpage.
This information, except for the website link(s), was reviewed by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office for compliance with ORS 260.432. SH20-168