The Tillamook County Pioneer sent a series of questions to the Tillamook County Board of Commissioner candidates. We compiled these questions based on input from various community leaders. The Tillamook County Pioneer will publish the answers in a series. This is PART 4 of the six part series. Here are the candidates answers to Question #4:
4. How do you assess the overall performance of county staff? How will you ensure they provide the best value for taxpayer money?
MARY FAITH BELL
My perception of the overall performance of County staff is that we have excellent, highly skilled people on the job in the positions with which I am familiar. As commissioner, it will be my honor to get to know the departments for whom I am liaison and it will be my responsibility to work with department heads to identify opportunities for efficiency and quality improvement.
KARI MATTSON FLEISHER
Overall I believe the Tillamook County staff completes their jobs effectively, ethically, and provides excellent customer service. I would want to ensure that there is inter-department communication that will allow for more continuity. If there are issues to be addressed, I would make sure this is communicated quickly and seek a positive solution if at all possible. Majority of county staff have the taxpayers in mind when approaching projects and contract negotiations not padding their pocketbook.
Having worked within the county government structure since 2012, I know that most employees can and would like to do better, but they are often hindered by habits and practices. Roughly one-third of the annual budget is spent on personnel, and that means that our employees are not only our greatest cost, but also our greatest asset. The unions are our strategic partners. Together we will enable employees to develop personally and professionally. We need to embrace technological advances that minimize errors and increase efficiency, so that we can use our creativity to develop ways to better serve the public.
Having worked in multiple county departments, without reservation, we have some of the best public servants in the state. I’ve seen county staff levels slashed with the expectation services remain at their same level. A victim of the 2008 budget cuts myself – shifted around within the county and ultimately losing my position later that year – I know all too well how it feels to find yourself on the out. Public employees are no different than private employees, save the fact they’re perceived as owing something to that one individual who has “paid their salary.” Please be mindful the next time you’re at the county; the person who’s assisting you is also a taxpayer. While running for this position, I’ve made many contacts with county staff and I’ve had wonderful experiences. As commissioner, should I need to handle a given situation, rest assured I will manage it appropriately.
Overall, I believe our county employees are doing a great job. I don’t believe in micro managing each department, but as a Commissioner, one of the jobs is to make sure each department is operating at a quality level and it is vital to meet as needed with each of the departments.
We are fortunate to have many people employed by the county who work hard and provide needed services to county residents and visitors. We must set our county employees up for success to ensure that they have well-stated goals, clear objectives and supportive direction from supervisors. Those three key things set our employees up for success. Ensuring that our employees have the best environment to provide the services that our county needs allows us make sure our community is getting the best services and value for their money, while holding employees accountable if they do not perform. This is the recipe for success for any private business and should also be a successful formula for county government.