Resident bad cop John Payne to retire

Clark County Deputy Treasurer John Payne is retiring, bringing the end of an era to the Public Service Center.

In early 2013, former county reporter Stephanie Rice wrote that in “17 years as a reporter, nobody has scared me more than John Payne.” While my interactions with him have been limited, I don’t blame her. He’s the bad cop to Democratic Treasurer Doug Lasher’s good cop. And I would not want to be on the receiving end when Payne’s got you in his sights.

Take recent budget talks, for example. Republican Councilor David Madore has continued to insist that that the county can afford to cut its general property tax levy by 2 percent. Payne, however, didn’t hold back when faced with Madore’s proposal, comparing the projected $1.2 million in lost revenue to the equivalent of cutting 12 sheriff’s deputies without offering any real cost saving to homeowners.

Oh, and he told Madore that his understanding of what drives rent prices—it’s not property taxes, Payne said—is flat wrong.

“This makes no sense to me,” Payne told Madore, bluntly.

Payne’s retirement—and hopefully a break from being one of the few adults in the room—is well deserved. Payne has been with the county for 30 years, according to a news release. He has been the president of the Washington Finance Officers Association and has served on several committees in the Government Finance Officers Association.

“I greatly appreciate John’s service in helping build a strong treasury operation over the years,” Lasher said in a press release. “I will miss him and his service to me and this office.”

A retirement party recognizing Payne will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15 in the Public Service Center hearing room at 1300 Franklin St. The Clark County council will also recognize Payne’s years of service prior to their 10 a.m. meeting on Tuesday.

Kaitlin Gillespie

Kaitlin Gillespie

I'm the education reporter at The Columbian. Get in touch at or 360-735-4517.

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