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The Cost of a Contract, part 2: Jackson County officials dispute administrator's contract

MEDFORD, Ore. - Within the last five years, countywide debt has decreased by over $10 million. Our revenues up by more than $20 million.

Former Commissioner Dave Gilmour attributes this steady growth to the constant variable in Jackson County, Administrator Danny Jordan.

"We've got a constant churning of commissioners. Every couple years there's new commissioners, which could take very diametrically opposed political stances, so we need some stability in the county," Gilmour said.

Acting Commissioner Rick Dyer says he’s seen the years of experience come in handy.

"It amazes me sometimes some of the topics that I say, 'hey, could you get me some information on this?' And he has it at the tip of his fingers," Dyer said.

His 2017 performance evaluation in early February agreed with that.

How well Mr. Jordan does his job isn't under the microscope.

"I’m not questioning his performance," former Commissioner Sue Kupillas said.

What is? How much leeway he has because of his contract.

"I’m just saying that any organization that represents the public really needs to look very carefully at what the terms of those contracts are," Kupillas said.

Kupillas was Jackson County commissioner for 16 years.

She's helped draft dozens of contracts along the way and says she would have been more frugal.

"Some of the former commissioners did give him more authority than I would have," Kupillas said.

She explains because it's coming from the tax payers and not her own pocket.

"You're spending the public’s money so you want to make sure you do that wisely," Kupillas said.

Kupillas says this large of a severance hanging over her head might make her think twice about her actions.

"It puts the commissioners in a more difficult position in decision making," Kupillas said.

We asked a contract attorney if this concern was valid.

The attorney, who asked to stay anonymous, says financially, it would be in the commissioner’s best interest to work with Jordan.

Commissioner Dyer says letting Administrator Jordan go hasn't crossed his mind.

However, if it had, it would alarm him.

"We would have to deal with the terms of the contract and that would be a pretty big chunk for Jackson County to have to put out," Dyer said.

The man who negotiated his contract says he negotiated the way he did as a bargaining chip.

"You want to get the best person, but you also want to retain the best person. To do that it's not a free process, good people are going to find better paying jobs." Gilmour said.

Although Gilmour assures he did his due diligence when hiring Administrator Jordan, he admits the outcome of his bet on him was uncertain.

"There's always a risk there. And it's a balance. On one hand you want to retain really good people and there's a risk in that to make sure you vet them pretty properly before that," Gilmour said.

Commissioner Dyer says it was a hard sell but a worthwhile one.

"Of course I’m going to say I would have tried to negotiate something better, that's your job as a negotiator. If I was not able to negotiate anything better - and that's what it took to retain Danny - I’m pretty sure I would have said 'absolutely'," Dyer said.

To read part 1, click here.

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