Washington County News February 2022

BCC map

Commissioner district boundaries will change

BCC map
Current Commissioner districts.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners (BCC) officially began the county’s process for redrawing commissioner district boundaries based on population changes measured during the 2020 census.

Four commissioners are elected to geographically designated districts. The chair of the BCC is elected countywide. Under the county’s Charter, a review of the population among the four commissioner districts must be made every 10 years following the U. S. Census Bureau’s count. If the population of any district is 105% or greater than any other, new commissioner district boundary lines must be drawn. This part of the process is called “reapportionment.” The resulting redrawn districts must not exceed 103% of the population of any other.

Although 2020 census numbers were available late last year, the county’s part of the process could not begin until Oregon’s legislative reapportionment process concluded. An Oregon Supreme Court ruling last November confirmed that the new state districts would take effect on January 1 of this year, clearing the way for the county’s process to begin.

During their February 2 meeting, the board appointed Joe Nelson, director of the Department of Assessment and Taxation, to oversee the population assessment among the districts. After receiving Nelson’s report, the board directed Assessment and Taxation to prepare a reapportionment plan for the board to consider later this year. District 2 (including Cedar Mill and Bethany) was at nearly 109% of the population of District 4, the smallest district. 

The BCC expects to receive the proposal by June 2022. They promise a “robust community engagement” process through October 2022 and should receive the final reapportionment plan and consider adoption in December 2022. The new district boundaries that emerge from the process would take effect in time for the 2024 election cycle.

More information can be found on the Commission District Reapportionment web page.

Washington County Broadband Investment Strategy study

The County Administrator’s Office (CAO) has begun a search for a consultant “to develop a shared vision and collaborative plan for potential future investments in broadband infrastructure to ensure fast, reliable, and affordable internet access to all residents and businesses within the county,” according to a posting on OpenGov Procurement. The announcement continues, “Washington County recognizes the crucial importance of broadband connection for households and businesses. In acknowledging the complex, interconnected social and economic factors that impact broadband access, the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) directed staff to conduct a detailed analysis of broadband infrastructure, access, and affordability countywide and to develop a countywide broadband investment strategy. At the highest level, the purpose of this work is to help the County and its local government partners prepare for potential broadband investments through the development of a comprehensive countywide Broadband Investment Strategy.”

We look forward to learning more about this effort going forward. Those of us in the more highly-populated parts of the county complain about high cost and poor service from our internet providers, but people in the rural areas of the county often have no options for internet service aside from expensive and unreliable satellite access. Many rural CPO organizations have simply ceased to meet because they can’t meet in person, for example.

The City of Hillsboro recently began to provide high-speed fiber broadband internet service to some areas, with plans to expand. We don’t know at this point if the county is looking at something similar, but federal funds are available to increase internet access, so we will stay with this story as it progresses.