Island County commissioners cut ties with hearing examiner

Believe Bobbink’s not fulfilling required duties

Island County commissioners are looking to sever ties with its longtime hearing examiner.

At a work session Wednesday, commissioners asked Island County Planning Director Hiller West to begin the search to replace Michael Bobbink, who has served in the position for more than 25 years.

“He’s given many years of service to Island county but he’s not doing what we agreed to pay him for,” Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said at the meeting.

Price Johnson and Commissioner Jill Johnson said Bobbink hadn’t been fulfilling parts of his contract that require assistance to staff in code cleanup.

The hearing examiner acts as a judge to resolve disputes within the county’s jurisdiction, such as building permit approval or denial.

Price Johnson said part of his job was also to use his experience to help staff fix areas within the code that lacked clarity or consistency.

West told commissioners when he first came to the county about three years ago, Bobbink had been in a couple of code cleanup discussions but hadn’t participated much since.

Johnson added that the intent had been to fix issues before they would be disputed or before it would make it difficult for Bobbink to make a decision.

She said her greatest issue was with the unwillingness to help in advance.

“Our goal is to have the cleanest code possible,” Johnson said, “and not have it pointed out where there’s flaws in the middle of a hearing.”

West said if a replacement hearing examiner is found, he will let Bobbink’s contract expire at the end of the year.

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