Longtime Thurston County Manager Don Krupp said Monday that he is leaving to become the county administrator in Clackamas County, Ore.
Krupp, 60, who has worked for the county for 19 years, will spend his last day at work in Thurston County on Sept. 6. He will begin his new post on Sept. 16, managing Clackamas County, which is just south of Portland. The county has about 380,000 people and is nearly 1,900 square miles, making it significantly larger than Thurston, which has a little more than 250,000 people and is 727 square miles, he said.
“It’s a more complex job,” he said, “something I’ve been interested in doing for some time now. … “My wife and I have been talking for some time about taking on a new adventure, so this seemed like the right thing to look into.”
Krupp said he informed the county commissioners of his decision on Thursday.
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“We are all in kind of a denial phase right now,” County Commissioner Sandra Romero said, saying he’ll be missed. “We’ll definitely have a great sendoff for him.”
She said the commissioners will probably decide on an interim county administrator this week. But the county will not conduct a nationwide search for a permanent replacement, she said, because it would be expensive – perhaps $30,000 to $50,000 – to hire a national search firm. Rather, the county’s human resources department will handle the search, she said.
Romero wasn’t sure when a permanent administrator would be in place.
Krupp began working for Thurston County in 1994 as the Development Services director. He was appointed interim county manager after Linda Hoffman left in 2001, and his appointment was made permanent several months later.
He previously served as deputy director of the state Department of Community Development and worked in the public works department for the city of Olympia.
Romero gave Krupp good marks for keeping the peace on several county commissions, aiding with regional relationships and getting the county through a major budget shortfall during the economic downturn.
County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela said she’ll miss Krupp’s institutional memory. “Clackamas County’s gain is definitely Thurston County’s loss,” she said.
Krupp said his greatest accomplishments include water quality improvement, which led to the return of shellfish harvesting in Henderson Inlet. Neighborhoods are being converted from septic tanks to sewers, and the county’s stormwater utility was extended countywide.
Also among his accomplishments, Krupp mentions the county’s new jail, known as the Accountability and Restitution Center, or ARC. He acknowledges the facility, which has sat empty several years after it was built, is controversial. But he said when it is up and running, which should happen this year, it will serve the county’s jail needs for 30 to 50 years.
The money is in place , but the county is having difficulty finding enough employees who can pass a background check to staff the facility.
The current facility is on a hillside and can’t be expanded, he said.
He said his greatest challenge has been weathering the economic recession that dawned in 2008. The number of county employees were cut to 1,050 from 1,280.
“That was terrifically difficult,” he said.
“We have budget challenges in the years ahead and it will continue to be difficult for the county to maintain services in light of the limitations that we have on our revenue” due to Initiative 747, he said. That 2001 state law caps property tax revenue increases at 1 percent per year, though inflation is exceeding 3 percent per year.
He said he is looking forward to applying what he’s learned in Thurston County in his new job. “I’ve really enjoyed being able to be part of Thurston County and … be a part of the organization here for so many years,” he said. “I feel like as much as I have put into my work effort here, I have gotten far more in return in terms of opportunity to be able to live and enjoy this wonderful community.”
Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-6869 mbatcheldor@ theolympian.com