Christopher Paasch was sworn into office as the county’s newest commissioner Monday morning at the courthouse in Gold Beach — and later was named chairman of the board.
“I am humbled by the showing this morning,” the first-time politician said during the commissioner meeting that followed. “I’ll do everything I can to move this county forward. I have lots of things going on in my head right now.”
He urged patience from the citizens, as well.
The biggest challenge facing the county is its financial status, which in past years has resulted in commissioners spinning off entire departments to nonprofit organizations, foregoing employee raises, reducing commissioner salaries and other cost-cutting measures.
The county’s Citizen’s Revenue Task Force is exploring new means the county could obtain new, sustainable revenue streams to replace forest timber receipt funds that have dwindled in the past several years. The first idea, of a transient lodging tax, will likely be on the May ballot. Other ideas being discussed include a prepared-food tax, which would tax restaurant meals and prepared foods in grocery store delis, among other items.
“I don’t envy anybody sitting in front of me this year,” said task force member Ryan Grummon. “A lot has to be done. I hope you’ll consider all the consequences of your decisions, and hope every decision that’s made is done with due diligence to get things done that need to get done.”
“It’s not going to be one big fix,” Paasch said of possible remedies. “It’s going to be a lot of little fixes. But I’m going to sit and do the job full-time, as long as it takes to get the job done.”
Paasch replaced Commissioner Tom Huxley who opted not to run for a second term.