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  • Writer's pictureErin B.

Optional Forms of Government 12/16

Tonight was the latest installment of the Optional Forms of Government Study Commission meeting: a pointless waste of three hours that got absolutely nothing done.

One interesting thing that was brought up was the point of Brian Cleary when he asked why this whole process is seemingly backwards. Botting didn’t want any discussion about the specifics of alternate forms of government during the interview process, he wanted to wait until deliberations. Now that they’re in the deliberations portion, they’ve decided on an alternate form and are trying to find reasoning around why they think it’s better. When Cleary points this out Botting’s answer was “well, people were getting emotionally charged over electing vs. appointing the sheriff and we had to start with SOMETHING.” (I’m paraphrasing)

I’m going to end with the table that the study commission has been working through the last 3-4 weeks but before that I just want to remind everyone that the public hearing is scheduled for January 19th. This is going to be your ONLY chance to tell the study commission what you think of their recommendation to the 5-person commissioner PLUS county manager.

If we put aside the millions of dollars of extra cost to change to a different form of government, no one has answered the question about whether our government is so broken to warrant a change….or if we just need to replace the PEOPLE in those positions.

Below is the table of strengths and weaknesses that they came up with for the current form of government and the one that majority “agreed” to recommend (by a 5-4 vote). I have included ALL strengths and weaknesses; the last few weeks have been discussing whether they are really facts, opinions, everything else.


3 Commissioners


5 Commissioners with Manager


  • Familiar

  • BOCC can already hire a manager

  • Prevents micromanagement of elected

  • BOCC stays busy, less time for overreach

  • If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

  • Full-time commissioners

  • BOCC has efficient decision-making process

  • Quicker responses in emergencies

  • Provides adequate checks and balances

  • Continuity of experience within BOCC

  • Easier access to BOCC for citizen’s issues

  • Prevents micromanagement of elected

  • Accountability to voters

  • Open meeting laws make BOCC more transparent

  • 100% representation

  • Power is diffused

  • BOCC has options to increase efficiency

  • BOCC sets goals and policies on a countywide basis

  • 3 is cheaper than 5 full time

  • ​Manager offloads BOCC

  • Allows subcommittees

  • Allows improved growth management

  • Manager brings professional expertise

  • Budget development more coordinated, less partisan

  • Manager breaks down silos and improves coordination

  • 5 BOCC expands candidate pool

  • Expands BOCC perspectives

  • Manager promotes less partisanship among BOCC

  • Slackers have less of an impact on BOCC duties

  • More time for planning and policy

  • Improved continuity across elections

  • More public access to BOCC

  • More time for community outreach

  • Business continuity planning w/Manager

  • Business principles w/Manager

  • Manager can respond more quickly to emergency planning

  • 5 BOCC increases representation

  • Strategic planning will be part of the job

  • Potential cost savings (IF 5 BOCC goes to part time)

  • Better implementation of policies


  • No collaboration outside of public meetings

  • Lack of distinction between admin/legislative function.

  • Direction of BOCC can change every election

  • Administrative duties are burdensome and impairs strategic planning

  • Lack of professional trained management

  • Larger impact if 1 or more commissioners aren’t doing their job

  • Limited # of viewpoints

  • Less time for 3 to interact with community

  • Can promote politicization of administrative decisions

  • Can attract people who only in it for salary & benefits​

  • County manager in charge of budget compilation

  • Takes budget away from Clerk’s office

  • Have to hire-and pay for-qualified county manager

  • No guarantee of continuity with county manager

  • Hiring/firing power over county employees

  • Oversight and appointment of advisory boards

  • Not accountable to voters

  • Have to redraw the districts for 5 commissioners

  • Have to wait 4 years for any change in the manager

  • Citizens must convince 3 commissioners for a majority instead of 2

  • If it ain't broke, don’t fix it

  • Potential conflict of interest implications with the budget

  • Manager can bias BOCC

  • BOCC is less involved

  • # of BOCC increases conflict

  • Manager could become filter between BOCC and departments

  • Increases bureaucracy, decreases decisiveness

  • Open meeting law concerns (back room talk)

  • Potentially increases cost if the commissioners don’t go from full time to part time

  • Unintended consequences in infrastructure costs

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