Graphic by Amber McAlary / News-Register
What is the rule at home? Should Yamhill County consider a move in this direction?
Under self-government, local government retains all powers of self-governance, except for those specifically pre-empted by state or federal law. In the absence of a ban, it empowers local jurisdictions, both city and county, to act. It is essentially a form of local control that gives citizens more leverage in government operations.
Historically, counties were created and maintained as simple administrative districts to perform functions and duties on behalf of the sovereign. In England it was the Crown. In America, it meant colonial governors before independence and state governments after.
In addition to their role as agents of the state, counties are gradually taking on a secondary role as a unit of local government, providing services in response to the needs and preferences of their constituents.
However, both as state agents and units of local government, they continued to operate under legal interpretations, limiting their powers to those expressly granted by state law. As a result, counties were unable to act in response to local needs without the express permission of the legislature.
Efforts to free counties from state constraints date back to 1906, but were largely unsuccessful until a constitutional amendment on county autonomy was passed in 1958.
In Oregon, 27 counties, including Yamhill, remain under traditional restrictions today. They are known as common law counties.
The other nine – Benton, Clatsop, Hood River, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Multnomah, Washington and Umatilla – have broken the yoke to become self-governing counties. And others have considered or are currently considering such a move.
The basic requirements of a home charger are specific to Article VI, Section 10 of the Oregon Constitution. At a minimum, he said, a county charter “must prescribe the organization of county government and must provide directly, or by its authority, for the number, election or appointment, qualifications, duration, remuneration, the powers and duties of such officers as the county deems necessary.
The process begins with the creation of a county charter committee, either through a resolution of the Council of Commissioners or through a citizens’ petition. The petition route sets the signature requirement at 4% of the local votes cast in the last election of a governor for a four-year term.
When the condition is met, the county council of commissioners appoints four members and the county legislative delegation appoints four more. These eight are content with a ninth.
The law prohibits the appointment of any local county commissioner or legislator, or anyone engaged in matters “incompatible with the conscientious exercise” of the committee’s functions.
The committee has two years to develop a charter to submit to voters. The county must provide him with free office space and either 1% per capita or $ 500 to help finance his expenses.
The committee is authorized to conduct interviews and continue investigations. He is required to hold at least one public hearing on the document he produces for scrutiny by voters.
The original vote on the charter and the votes on any amendment, revision or repeal must normally be submitted in a primary or biennial general election. However, under a 1977 Court of Appeal ruling (Brummel v. Clark, 31 or App 405), an amendment may be put to a vote in a special election if the county charter so permits.
As an alternative, a county charter can be prepared and submitted directly to voters via an initiative petition.
The charter fixes the number of auditors, their status and their remuneration. It can also decide on the number, status and salary structure of administrative officers or other officers and employees of the county.
In addition, it serves as a vehicle for handling intergovernmental relations and operations; ordinance, initiative and referendum procedures; personnel protections and procedures; questions of budgeting, expenditure and finance; the procedures for the transition to the new charter system; and various other matters. Some self-governing counties have taken a minimalist approach and others have filled their charters with many pages of detail.
This allows a county to structure its operation to best meet local needs and to make changes as circumstances change. They are not stuck with a fixed state mandate.
Given this degree of latitude, a local charter would give more autonomy to the citizens of Yamhill County in deciding how Yamhill County should be governed. This would allow them to decide:
Which officials should be appointed or elected, and which should serve on a paid or unpaid basis. How many commissioners should sit on the board of directors, whether chosen at general or by district; how they should be paid and how the board chair should be decided. What role should citizens have in the decision-making process.
Cities in Oregon have a great deal of autonomy in terms of autonomy, and a charter would put the county on an equal footing.
Along the way, this would allow the county to provide rural areas with services currently limited to urban areas, if voters consent – for example, establishing a lodging tax to support tourism or passing a tax measure to fund. replacement of the rural broadband Internet service bridge.
I encourage everyone to learn more about Home Rule and what it could or would mean for Yamhill County. If you would like more information, please do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected] or [email protected]
The people, not the politicians, must decide what form of government they want, who should lead it and how it should be administered.