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Rumpeltes: council not involved with county operations

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Interim Clark County Manager Jim Rumpeltes

Interim Clark County Manager Jim Rumpeltes is a staid presence at county council meetings, often only making a few remarks at the end. But at yesterday’s meeting, he made a more emphatic statement about a controversy regarding the role of the council that has periodically bubbled up.

Yesterday, civic leader Pat Jollota showed up at the meeting to criticize the county during the public comment period for the sudden exodus of animal control staff, which has resulted in a reduction in services.

Toward the end of her remarks, Jollotta cryptically reminded the council that the charter outlines specific duties to councilors, who set policy, and the county manager, who oversees day-to-day administrative functions.

“Please be very cautious as to how you handle these things,” she said.

The insinuation that the county council has stepped over the line (or at least brushed against it) separating policy-making from administrative functions is not a new one. Temple Lentz, a former Clark County freeholder and candidate for county council, has said she’s concerned councilors haven’t fully embraced the charter. Nan Henriksen, former chair of the Clark County Board of Freeholders, has criticized the council for getting too involved in administrative matters.

But at yesterday’s meeting, Rumpeltes pushed back on this notion, saying that the council has not been involved in administrative operations and he has been responsible for running the county.

“The position I’m in oversees the operations of the county,” Rumpeltes said. “So in terms of decisions made regarding departments, how they operate, HR decisions, the county council has nothing to do with that.”

He later noted that he doesn’t have a “loud and boisterous and in-your-face style.” However, he added, “I can assure the public I have been running the county and appropriate roles have been taken by the county council and the county manager during my tenure here, and I appreciate that.”

Rumpeltes also referenced the situation with animal control. The city of Vancouver contracts with the county for animal control services. Rumpeltes said that he had a recent conversation with Vancouver City Manager Eric Holmes, who he said did not bring up any concerns about animal control service levels.

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