Jefferson: Merger of county, city governments posed by two commissioners; tight budgets cited

A majority of the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners is proposing a merger of county and Port Townsend city governments to cut expenses.

Dan Titterness, R-Port Townsend, and Pat Rodgers, R-Brinnon, suggested at a Board of Health meeting Thursday that voters be presented with the idea.

“There may not be the political will to do it, but we should at least ask the voters,” Titterness said.

Metropolitan governments, as they’re called, contain the functions of a city and county under one agency.

Rodgers, who is retired from a business background, used a corporate analogy to explain why he wants to explore the idea.

“If we were two businesses, we would be talking about a merger,” he said.

“That’s because we would be looking at what is best for our two businesses.”

County Administrator David Goldsmith said last month that the county budget could be balanced if $200,000 was cut from expenses each year.

The city, meanwhile, faces a $500,000-$750,000 deficit, City Manager David Timmons said.

Those revenues could be made up under a combined government, where services aren’t duplicated, Titterness said.

“There’s $100,000 savings right there,” Titterness said, pointing in the direction of either Timmons or Goldsmith.

In one example of a combined municipal government, Los Alamos County, N.M., has a seven-member council which presides over the county and communities of Los Alamos and White Rock.

In the nation’s most famous merged municipal government, the City and County of San Francisco has a mayor and 11 supervisors, the title used for county commissioners in California.

Port Townsend City Councilman Kees Kolff said he believes in sharing many services with Jefferson County government — but he isn’t enthusiastic about a complete government merger.

Timmons agreed.

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