Whitman County Road at Sunset

County Road Department Organization

Good organization and good management are necessary for a county road department to be responsive to the overall needs of the county. They allow planning for needs to avoid a haphazard reaction to problems as they arise.

In those counties where the County Engineer also functions as the Director of Public Works, he or she may find themselves dealing with such things as operation of water and sewer systems, solid waste collection and/or disposal, airports and more. In that role, he or she must make certain delegations of authority and responsibility for the proper operation of their department. How much, of course, depends upon the size of the department and its program. In all cases, each level must clearly understand the authority and policy limits within which it is to exercise its delegated responsibilities. WAC 136-50-051 requires the County Engineer to have a policy regarding organization of the road department. It is the duty of the County Engineer to organize the road department in accordance with the policies of the county legislative authority, into such departments, divisions, districts, or units as may be necessary to meet statutory requirements and to perform such additional services as may be directed by policy of the legislative authority.

Annually, each county engineer and either the chair of the board of county commissioners or the county executive must certify that the county has operated in compliance with the Standards of Good Practice. Based upon this certification, and biennial performance audits, CRAB issues Certificates of Good Practice to the State Treasurer, which allows disbursement of gas tax revenues to the individual counties in the following year.

An important facet of management responsibilities is the preparation and implementation of effective personnel policies. These policies should be developed by the Board with the cooperation of the County Engineer. Copies of the adopted personnel policies should be provided to all employees and additional copies of the policy should be kept in the office of the county engineer and in all road department shops so that it is readily available to all road department employees and prospective employees. Ultimately, it is the County Engineer who is legally responsible for the actions taken on behalf of the department.

Contact Engineering@CRAB for more information.