County changing public records procedure

At Monday's work session County Administrator Jim Jones said the public records committee recommended designating clerk of the board Trish Holden as the responsible party for public records requests instead of the county auditor.

Since it is a policy change, it must be submitted for internal and public comment, he said.

Holden was to be appointed interim public records officer at the commissioners March 9 meeting with a permanent appointment possible following a public hearing.

The public hearing is set for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 20, in Room 160 at the Clallam County Courthouse, 223 E. Fourth St., Port Angeles.

Holden will track all the county's public records requests but each department will remain responsible for compliance, Jones said.

County Commissioner Mike Chapman said designating Holden was a good idea.

"Then those requests will have the authority of our office. We can get (County Administrator Jim Jones) involved if the person is satisfied but that gets the (Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mark Nichols) out of it," said Chapman.

Since he is the legal advisor to county departments, Nichols handled the public records requests for the auditor in case information had to be redacted.

"The initial public contact should be with the commissioners office," Chapman said.

Jones said the policy change is an improvement because they won't have the difficulties complying with public records requests that the auditor's office had.

"Thank you all who worked on this. It will keep (Nichols) from getting bogged down," Chapman said.

In other action, the commissioners:

• Renewed a shared equipment agreement with the city of Sequim so the city could rent a roadside mower for $750 a month for six months. County Utilities manager Bob Martin said the county's mower at its Sequim shop was underutilized and Sequim couldn't afford one in its 2010 budget. He said Jim Pemberton, Sequim's interim public works director, had agreed to ignore the city limits and mow in the county as well when his crews are using the mower along Old Olympic Highway.

Reach Brian Gawley at

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