The issue of how county staff pay is determined was debated after the Grant County Court approved a new job description for the assistant watermaster at its Aug. 28 meeting.

The position is a county job, and a new job description was reviewed by the Local Government Personnel Institute. No pay change was decided, but County Judge Scott Myers noted that the court had seen an “uptick” in requests for job description reviews. Many county job descriptions were about a decade old and could be reviewed by the new human resources manager, Myers said.

Commissioner Jim Hamsher said he’d like to see all county job descriptions reviewed by Jan. 31, before the budget process begins. Myers agreed, noting that payroll and benefits need to be presented to the county treasurer ahead of the budget process.

Justice of the Peace Kathy Stinnett, who has taken a position on this issue before in county court, pointed out that approving a new job description for one county position opened up questions about other positions. She wanted all county workers treated equally and fairly and asked the court how they would prioritize the review process.

Myers said most clerical jobs had similar pay but different duties, with some duties more strenuous than others. Stinnett noted that some department heads may not write the best job descriptions, and it was the duty of the county court to watch out for all staff. Myers said the court did the best they could.

Stinnett suggested replacing the job description system with a grade and step system. She also noted that she had never seen a case where a department head got a pay increase for a worker based on merit.

Myers said pay for Grant County staff was less than in other Oregon counties, but not by much. The court agreed to direct the human resources manager to review job descriptions by Jan. 31.

In other county court news:

• In an effort to improve the construction contractor bidding process, Hamsher proposed maintaining a list of contractors by specialty and then issuing a “blanket email” to them whenever the county has a project needing bids.

Hamsher, Fairgrounds Manager Mindy Winegar and Airport Manager Haley Walker have expressed concerns about not getting responses from contractors. Myers said he believed local contractors were “as busy as they want to be.”

Hamsher proposed placing an ad in the newspaper alerting contractors to send contact information along with bonding and license information to the county for the new list. The court agreed with the idea.

• Following an executive session, the court approved a motion to work with CityCounty Insurance Service and an outside investigative agency to look at potential wrongdoing in Grant County.

• Following an executive session, the court approved a motion to direct planning staff to work with legal counsel to comply with a remand ruling by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals for an economic, social, environmental and energy analysis to be used by the county court.

• Jena Knowles and Ashley Armendarez were appointed to the Local Community Advisory Council.


Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at or 541-575-0710.

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