Elections for Surveyor may be stopped, handed to county government

Elections for Surveyor may be stopped, handed to county government

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- A new law that takes effect at the first of the year will change how counties pick their surveyor.

The county surveyor position has been an elected position for many years, but a law passed in the last Oregon legislative session would change it to an appointed position.

The law would require counties to appoint the surveyor after the current term of their elected official expires.

Douglas County Surveyor Romey Ware, says the county surveyors around the state are concerned that if that law is implemented, they would then have to answer to the county commissioners and not the people who would otherwise elect them. "One of the things that surveyors will tell you, the reason they'd like to keep it elective, is that in those counties that have appointed positions, that the county surveyor seems to be more bureaucratic in his approach to approving surveys and those kinds of things. Elective ones don't, because they are responsive to the citizens."

Ware's term is up at the end of 2012, so there is still time to figure out how the law should be interpreted, but he says right now it's pretty confusing.

"We're waiting for a clarification, and hopefully the legislature in this emergency session will address the issue and refine the language so it's clear. The professional land surveyors of Oregon statewide opposes this. They thought they had it tabled at the legislature in committee.

Senate Bill 344 was sponsored by Senator Larry George of Sherwood.

Ware says the legislation originally only included the assessor to be appointed, but later the surveyor was included in the bill.

Then, the assessors lobby got that part taken out and when it was passed, only the surveyor was included.

Surveyors make sure lot lines are accurate on new sub-division maps and maintain boundary monuments that were laid out in the late 1800's, to provide reference points for deeds and property lines.