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  • Writer's pictureErin B.

Optional Forms of Government: Meeting Slow Until the End

The Study Commission starts the brainstorming portion of the SWOT analysis and it's painful to watch, but the end of the meeting was well worth the effort for staying the whole time.

Tonight's Optional Forms of Government meeting started off with a brainstorming session for the two forms the commission will be writing about in the report to the Commissioners: the current form of government, and the study commission's preferred form of government, Commission-Manager.

Half of the meeting had absolutely no action for the audience; the study commission placed sticky notes over the walls and then grouped together based on overarching topic. I'm going to list off their topics below in the Strengths and Weaknesses columns for both forms of government.

These lists are based on the study commission viewpoints; the public will have a chance to comment about their recommendations at the public hearing in the middle of January.

Current Form of Government




  • ​Provides adequate checks and balances

  • Provides some overlap experience of commissioners

  • Easy citizen access to BOCC for their issues

  • Prevents micromanagement by BOCC towards other elected offices

  • BOCC stays busy so they have less time for overreach

  • Keeps accountability in the hands of the voters

  • Familiar to the public

  • More transparency with open meeting laws, less of a chance to speak outside of a meeting

  • 100% representation

  • Current system works (if it ain't broke, don't fix it)

  • Powers diffused

  • Current BOCC structure allows hiring assistants

  • Chief Operating Officer allows for less than 4 year option if it doesn't work out

  • BOCC has more options to increase efficiency

  • Full time commissioners

  • Quick/efficient decision-making process (requiring only 2 of 3 votes)

  • Quicker response in emergencies

  • Sets goals and policies county-wide

  • 3 commissioners is cheaper than 5

  • ​Not enough time to focus on long-range planning

  • Lack of professionally-trained people

  • Burdensome administrative duties

  • Lack of coordinator function

  • Direction of BOCC can change with 1 election

  • Unable to collaborate outside a public meeting

  • If one commissioner isn't pulling their weight, the impact of their laziness is greater

  • Limited amount of viewpoints

  • BOCC has less time to work with citizen's problems. More growth in county, more people to deal with , more problems, more citizens per commissioner

  • Legislator function and administrative function is overlapped. Lack of distinction. Lack of checks and balances.

  • Administrative decisions can be political decisions

Preferred Form of Government




  • Better deal with growth challenges

  • Potential cost savings of a part-time BOCC

  • 5 BOCC increases representation

  • Manager brings professionalism/training /experience

  • Manager offloads administrative responsibilities from BOCC

  • Manager can better implement policies

  • Quicker budget development and implementation

  • "Proven evidence" that 5 is better than 3 commissioners

  • Allows for BOCC subcommittees

  • Quorum of 3 vs. 2 allows for more collaboration

  • Manager breaks down the silos because they've been appointed by all electeds

  • 5 part-time BOCC attracts more professional candidates

  • Expands candidate pool because they can attract people that already have jobs

  • More opinions/perspectives on the board

  • More skills

  • Expanded potential for deliberations

  • Brings non-political approach to county goals

  • Slackers aka lazy commissioners give less of an impact to the overall board function

  • More commissioners to distribute responsibility

  • Better continuity

  • Citizens have access to more commissioners

  • Commissioners have more time to deal with citizen issues or community outreach

  • Strategic planning is baked in

  • Business principles

  • Reorganization of current government roles is disruptive. Operations, budget, etc.

  • Potential conflict of interest implications

  • BOCC is less involved

  • Manager can be biased

  • Success of county is dependent on qualifications of manager

  • No guarantee of continuity or tenure

  • Manager could be professional bureaucrat

  • Manager would take away hiring/firing personnel, appointing advisory board members from BOCC

  • If budgetary authority is moved out of Clerk's office (the Auditor resides) puts more budget authority to manager

  • It places too much power within the commissioners side of government, who hires a manager whose now putting together the all-up budget for the commissioners to vote on

  • Increased potential conflict between 5 commissioners

  • Less transparency/behind-closed-doors meetings

  • Manager is filter between commissioners and department heads

  • Possible misunderstanding of information (the game of Telephone)

  • Less transparency with BOCC

  • Potential to shield info from BOCC

  • Misinformation or info lost in translation

  • More bureaucracy

  • Less decisiveness

  • Potential increased county costs (adding qualified manager and part time commissioners)

  • Will have to redistrict county into 5 zones which will cost $$$

  • Potential unintended consequences

  • There will be additional infrastructure costs

I didn't realize when I wrote the list that the weaknesses of the alternate, "preferred" form of government is just as long (maybe even longer) as the list of strengths. Yikes.

There is one thing that the study commission placed on hold for the moment to circle back to later: part of the study commission's responsibility is to determine length of each commissioner term between elections. Right now it's a rolling 2 year/4 year seat process. It'll be interesting to see what they want to change the seat terms to in the future.


At the end of the SWOT discussion, Tamara asked a question to Dave Botting that had just come up: why, when Botting was so hell bent on keeping the the alternatives OUT of the deliberations process that he actually threw his rules out the window and changed bylaws, why is alternate Cheri Zao the one who is writing all the Strengths/Weaknesses and offering suggestions for the best overarching topics?

Dave Botting proceeded to jump down Tamara's throat for asking that question when it was something that had just popped into her mind; Botting's answer was NO ONE ELSE VOLUNTEERED TO WRITE! No joke. That was his answer.

Botting threw SUCH a fit when his rules were being questioned a few weeks ago that he ultimately shut the meeting down to wait for a legal opinion about whether or not they could be held legally accountable if the alternates participated. This week he fully admitted that he went against the rules and didn't care. He even went as far a acting like a middle schooler and screamed that they better just rip up all the pages that Cheri had written and Tamara better start writing it again so that it was fair.

Rules for thee but not for me.

I highly suggest watching the snippet of Botting's tantrum and illegal activity below.

Reminder, there's no meeting next week so the study commission will pick back up on December 1st.

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