As Clatsop County enters its budget season, Assistant County Manager Nicole Williams will be acting as manager.

The Board of Commissioners expects to name Williams as interim manager for about the next month, replacing the current interim manager Andy Anderson

But the newest commissioner, Dirk Rohne, from Brownsmead, said he would support letting Anderson go "if everyone promises to behave."

When asked about the comment after the meeting, Rohne chose his words very carefully.

"I took this very seriously," he said. "I spoke to a lot of people before I was able to support this."

Questions have been raised about whether Williams has the experience to act as county manager until the Board names the new manager and work with a strong-willed county commission.

Unlike other counties, Clatsop County has managed to keep its head above water financially. But, there's an ever-tightening recession affecting the country, and people wonder where the first shoe might drop locally.

Even though the county was once flush with money, budget cycles over the past two years have been rife with controversy, as commissioners voted to remove a county-paid stipend for the state-paid district attorney. That eventually led to a countywide ballot measure to link the DA's salary to that of circuit court judges. And there is the threat of the budget ax hanging over two employees in the DA's office. These issues have worsened tension between some county departments.

Williams was named assistant county manager in January 2008. Before that, she'd been the county clerk for three years.

Commissioner Patricia Roberts said Williams has served incredibly and will have expert help. She said Williams had experience working through the budget process and it is an appropriate time for Anderson to be leaving.

Williams will take on interim manager responsibilities after the county completes negotiations with her on adequate compensation for the added duties she is expected to undertake for the next month. That's when the Board expects to name the next county manager.

Board Chairman Jeff Hazen and Commissioner John Raichl said county can use the money it's paying Anderson for other purposes, including recruitment costs for the next county manager. Anderson is receiving $8,500 a month in base salary and $1,500 a month for living expenses.

The commissioners thanked Anderson for his service.

"I just want to thank you too, and thank everybody who showed me kindness in town," he told the Board.

The Board hired Anderson Oct. 13 to fill in temporarily while a search was conducted for somebody to replace former County Manager Scott Derickson, who stepped down to accept the job of Woodburn city administrator.

It hired executive search consultant Greg Prothman to find candidates to fill the vacancy. Commissioners have been interviewing 12 semifinalists and in mid-March are expected to hold a public event in which citizens can meet the finalists face-to-face.


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