Island County auditor ready to hand off door opening responsibilities

Determining who should open the doors of the Island County’s administration building on 6th Street hangs in the balance.

Determining who should open the doors of the Island County’s administration building on 6th Street hangs in the balance.

After three years of handling the task, Auditor Sheilah Crider is asking the new facilities director to take it over.

The move comes after elected officials, including the auditor, told county commissioners last week that a last-minute budget change from a 4 percent raise to a 2 percent raise was “a slap in the face.”

Commissioner Jill Johnson, who supported the change to a 2 percent raise, said the timing of Crider’s door-opening complaint “raises questions, and the issue is petty.”

Crider said she stepped up to open the building’s three doors when the previous facilities director was out with an injury for nearly two years.

“We took on that responsibility,” Crider said Thursday.

Crider said the move has nothing to do with the recent raise debate and that facilities opens other county buildings.

“That’s the only building that facilities has not returned to opening,” Crider said.

Facilities Director Larry Van Horn said Monday he was surprised that Crider emailed the commissioners and not him. An email was later forwarded to him.

“I was a little taken aback that no one contacted me directly,” Van Horn said.

Van Horn said that the buildings now opened by facilities are done so between 7:30 and 8 a.m. and are accompanied by required maintenance checks. Staff is then deployed on various county projects both on Whidbey and Camano islands. The administration building doesn’t open until 9 a.m.

“We can be flexible but there’s going to be days when we find it a challenge,” Van Horn said. “There’s 30-40 employees in there who are capable of opening the doors.”

Van Horn said he has yet to discuss the issue with the auditor or the commissioners but is willing to work out a solution with them moving forward.

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks, who took the lead for elected officials on the raise debate, said he doesn’t believe Crider is grandstanding.

“I can’t imagine Sheilah Crider would retaliate against the board over the salary resolution,” Banks said. “I think it has been an administrative point of contention for quite a while.”

Banks said the issue of compensation for elected officials — which includes himself, the auditor, the sheriff and the assessor, to name a few — is largely misunderstood.

While the door-opening issue has yet to be resolved, Crider said her office will continue opening the doors to the public until a solution is found.