Exploring Salem and Beyond

A year ago I spent one day a month in the Leadership Salem Class through the Inspire Foundation, the educational arm of the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce. Along with 30 other local business owners, public servants and private sector employees we spent a day month exploring aspects of the region. For instance one day was devoted to private business and manufacturing and we visited the Don Pancho headquarters in north Salem. Another day was focused on education and we spent time at Grant Elementary viewing their student maintained garden and walking to lunch with kids.

Government day was of course one of my favorite, this needs no explanation! We began our day at the City of Salem Council Chambers where we met with city officials and spent time in a mock-testifying trail. We then headed over to the Capitol where I was able to share “the people’s house” with my fellow class mates. Then we headed back to the Chamber just as the agenda outlined. (I knew government day 2015 would be different!)

In early February the Leadership Salem Class included a visit with your Marion County Commissioners, Janet Carlson, Sam Brentano and I as part of their Government Day. Twenty-five up and coming leaders learned about county government and the services provided to over 300,000 citizens. Do you know how many incorporated cities there are in Marion County? Do you know the date the county was established? Do you know what the two top economic drivers are for our economy? Do you know what the basis of county government is?

In addition to answering the above questions we shared that the 2014-2015 all funds budget is approximately 330 million dollars and the county employees 1,357 FTE. Of your tax dollars the county spends 78% of its budget on public safety. They learned that many key decisions are made at the county level that affects all of us. Whether it is related to public safety, land use, solid waste management or human services, millions of your tax dollars are spent on your behalf.

We spent time sharing the impact of state legislation on counties and how important it is for citizens to be engaged in that process as well as the various boards and commissions that are composed of volunteers, citizens like you and me. It was a great session and I hope that everyone came away with a better understanding of the county government and its role in serving the citizens.

You can learn more about the county by visiting our web site at: www.co.marion.or.us, or like us on Facebook at: Marion County Board of Commissioners. And you are personally invited to attend one of our upcoming State of the County Address presentations (details are at the end of this note.) Thank you for taking time to read and please know that it continues to be an honor and privilege to serve the citizens of Marion County.

March 1, 2015