Assessor picked as permanent planning director

Mary Engle has been credited with fixing problems in the department with her straight-forward, no-nonsense style and administrative abilities.

Island County’s assessor has accepted an offer from the county commissioners to be the planning director on a permanent basis.

Mary Engle has been both the elected county assessor and the appointed interim planning director since the former planning director resigned in August. While her contract as the permanent planning director hasn’t been finalized, her contract as the interim director runs through March.

Engle has been credited with fixing problems in the department with her straight-forward, no-nonsense style and administrative abilities.

“She does a great job of remembering what it’s like to be on the other side of the counter,” Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson said.

Engle’s top goal going forward, she said, is to improve the work flow in the building permit division to get permits out the door in just four to six weeks. The lack of timeliness in the process has long been a complaint from builders, she added.

Johnson said she also looks forward to the “required use of technology” among the permitting staff so that permits are more easily trackable and applicants can see the progress online.

Since the assessor is a partisan office and Engle is a Republican, the county Republican Party will be involved in the process of replacing her. After she resigns, the party will ask for applicants and then give the county commissioners the names of three candidates.

The commissioners will interview the three candidates and name one to serve as assessor until the general election.

If anyone asks for a recommendation, Engle said she wouldn’t hesitate to name Chief Deputy Jason Joiner. She said Joiner has kept the office running smoothly as she has focused much of her time on the planning department.

Under the proposed contract, Engle will earn $120,000 a year, the same salary as her predecessor.

The commissioners didn’t advertise the planning director position this time around but offered Engle the job based on her performance.

“I’m excited,” Johnson said. “This is one of the best hires we’ve made in a long time.”

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