From left, Clallam County commissioners Mark Ozias, Bill Peach and Randy Johnson discuss creating a finance department within county government Tuesday at their monthly long-range planning meeting. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

From left, Clallam County commissioners Mark Ozias, Bill Peach and Randy Johnson discuss creating a finance department within county government Tuesday at their monthly long-range planning meeting. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Clallam commissioners name committee for treasurer applicants

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County commissioners named a committee Monday to screen applicants for the vacancy created by former elected Treasurer Selinda Barkhuis, who resigned with one year left in her term.

Teresa Marchi, the deputy treasurer, and Michael Cobb, who ran unsuccessfully for Port of Port Angeles commissioner in the Nov. 7 election, said Tuesday they intend to apply for the four-year position, which is up for election Nov. 6, 2018.

Cobb, who said he had a job similar to the county treasurer when he was the Navy finance officer for a Navy base, said he would run if he is chosen.

Marchi, who has worked at the treasurer’s office for 35 years, declined to say if she would run for the position next year.

Commissioners are scheduled to choose her as the interim treasurer at their meeting today at 10 a.m., a position that will last until they select Barkhuis’s replacement.

The treasurer-selection panel that commissioners chose Monday at their work session will consist of Human Resources Director Rich Sill, Auditor Shoona Riggs and Assessor Pam Rushton.

By county ordinance, the committee will recommend up to three candidates to the commissioners on the basis of a job description that Sill said Monday in an interview will be posted by today for 14 days.

Commissioners could make their selection by the end of January, commissioners’ Chairman Mark Ozias said.

He did not know if commissioners’ interviews of the finalist or finalists would be public.

Sill said the salary of the treasurer who is selected would be $63,624 annually, not including an additional approximately $13,000 in benefits, to $77,520, not including about $16,000 in benefits.

Ozias said it might seem the process should have been “all figured out and ready to go.”

It would have been inappropriate “for the board to have gone down this road until Selinda formalized her intentions,” Ozias said, adding the process might seem “a little messier” than might have been desired.

Barkhuis, a second-term treasurer who resigned citing “health issues resulting from work-related stress,” cited the same reason in February for saying she intended to resign, saying she was “not quite ready” to give a date.

In the past few weeks, she has said publicly that her last day would be Friday, Dec. 15.

She made it official Thursday at a county Finance Committee meeting, making Friday her departure date.

Long-term planning

Before their regular work session Monday, commissioners held their monthly long-term planning session and discussed taking action that could have bearing on the duties of the treasurer’s office.

They discussed the possible creation of a finance department that Ozias said could take over some duties of the treasurer’s and auditor’s offices.

“The goal is to take a look at all aspects of financial management and understand where are we not doing things as efficiently as possible,” Ozias said in a later interview.

County Administrator Jim Jones said at the meeting that most counties have finance departments.

Jones said the treasurer focuses on tracking county revenues and the assessor, expenditures.

Voters could decide on a proposal to create the new department, which would require changing the county charter, in the November 2019 election.

The purpose would be to streamline the flow of revenue and expenditures and establish more effective management of, for example, the handling of accounts receivable such as franchises.

“We could conceivably have a basic outline of a plan in place when the new treasurer is elected in November,” he said.

Ozias said he did not know how much a finance department would cost.

“If the cost-benefit analysis doesn’t pan out, then I suspect we wouldn’t continue to pursue heading in this direction,” he said.

Ozias said in the later interview that Barkhuis,who as treasurer focused on revenues, had said more attention should be paid to county franchises that apply, for example, to utility lines on county property.

Franchises generate “in the low several hundreds of thousands of dollars” in revenue, he said.

Ozias said he hoped by the end of April a plan could be in place that, after talking to department heads and touching base with other counties, could determine how it makes sense for the commissioners to proceed.

Commissioner Randy Johnson said it was important to visit other counties with finance departments to see how they work.

“We need to do more research to make sure everything makes sense,” Johnson said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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