Group sets home rule information activities

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer March 15, 2014 09:03 am

The Citizens Charter Committee has scheduled a series of public relations activities to help people understand Measure 8-76, which will appear on the May 20 ballot.

The measure asks voters to approve changing the form of government under which Curry County currently operates, general law, to that of home rule. Home rule charters typically are drawn up to give counties more say in local issues that affect them.

A news conference is slated for 2 p.m. March 28 at the Chetco Activity Center, 550 Chetco Lane, in Brookings, where proponents will provide information about the proposal and on upcoming community panel discussions regarding the ballot measure.

As written — and the so-called “living document” can always be changed in the future — the home rule charter would mean Curry County would be led by a full-time, paid administrator who oversees the details of daily operations at the county level. A board of commissioners would be comprised of five, part-time, volunteer citizens who work on behalf of the county and address state, national and other issues that affect Curry County.

“The failure of the Curry County Board of Commissioners to act on the recommendations of their citizens committee regarding changing the form of Curry County’s structure of government to Home Rule from general law is the history behind  this ballot measure,” said Connie Hunter, who serves on the committee that drafted the measure. “The urgency is, we have a $3.5 million shortfall and no plans for the future to get out of that. We have no plan.”

The structure the charter creates is a division of roles, Hunter said. 

“Let operations be operations, let legislative be legislative, and let’s have distinct lines between them,” she said. “In doing that, you create the opportunity to let them get off the short-term issues and have a vision.

“When you are forced by your job and the structure of general law to stay on the short-term issues and then can let someone else do it, you (commissioners) can develop a vision and a long-term strategic plan,” she added. “They can build a bridge from here to the future and know how to get there.”

Their efforts are not to be confused with the commissioner-appointed Charter Committee that is currently studying other counties and cities’ home rule charters to make a recommendation if that is a good route for Curry County to pursue. That group has two years in which to develop a recommendation, but if Measure 8-76 is approved by voters, the county group will likely continue as an advisory committee to the commissioners to finesse the home rule charter document.

For additional information about the Curry Citizens charter and its associated Curry Citizens Charter Political Action Committee, contact Connie Hunter at 602-541-5903 or 541-412-1224.