Chapter 202 — Establishment of New Counties; Change of Boundaries

 

2019 EDITION

 

 

NEW COUNTIES; CHANGE OF BOUNDARIES

 

COUNTIES AND COUNTY OFFICERS

 

202.010     “County court” defined

 

202.020     Petitions to form new counties or change existing county boundaries

 

202.030     Election order; conduct of election; ballot title

 

202.040     Commissioners to arrange terms on proposal to change boundaries

 

202.050     Certification of election to Secretary of State

 

202.060     Proclamation by Governor

 

202.070     Operation and effect of proclamation

 

202.080     Boundaries to conform to established legal subdivisions; filing boundary change with county assessor and Department of Revenue

 

202.090     Validity of election

 

202.100     County judge and commissioners for new county

 

202.110     Other county officers

 

202.120     Locating county seat

 

202.130     State laws to govern county court

 

202.140     Compensation of members of county court

 

202.150     Disposition of public property, records and tax liens

 

202.160     Transcription of real estate, court and tax records

 

202.170     Transfer of records

 

202.180     Transfer of electors’ registration records and election records

 

202.190     Payment of moneys due from state

 

202.200     Apportionment of state taxes payable

 

202.210     Ascertainment, apportionment and assumption of indebtedness

 

202.220     Disposition of special funds and property

 

202.230     Distribution of funds in excess of indebtedness

 

202.240     Payment of apportioned indebtedness

 

202.250     Authority to collect revenues

 

202.260     Redistricting of county and filling of vacancies

 

202.270     Renumbering of school and road districts

 

202.280     Validity of school district bonds

 

202.290     Judicial district affiliation

 

202.310     Venue of actions and proceedings

 

202.320     Place of return of processes, writs, bonds, notices and other papers

 

      202.010 “County court” defined. As used in this chapter, unless the context requires otherwise, the term “county court” includes board of county commissioners.

 

      202.020 Petitions to form new counties or change existing county boundaries. Whenever it is desired to form a new county out of one or more then existing counties or to change the boundaries of then existing counties, a petition praying for the formation of such new counties or for the change of the boundaries of then existing counties, describing the territory proposed to be incorporated in the new county or changed from one county to another, together with the name of the proposed new county, if for that purpose, or the name of the then existing county to be eliminated, if any county would be eliminated by the change of boundaries as proposed, signed by a majority of the electors registered in the territory to be embraced in the new county or registered in the territory to be embraced in the change of county boundaries, shall be presented to the county court of each county to be affected by the proposed formation of a new county. Where any existing county would be eliminated by such change of county boundaries the petition shall be signed by not less than 40 percent of the electors of the county to be eliminated. [Amended by 1983 c.83 §14]

 

      202.030 Election order; conduct of election; ballot title. (1) If the county court finds that the proposed changes will not result in any new or remaining county having an assessed valuation, area or population less than required by the Constitution of this state, the county court shall call an election on a date specified in ORS 203.085 for the purpose of submitting the question of:

      (a) The formation of the new county to the electors registered within the limits of the proposed new county;

      (b) The elimination of an existing county to the electors of each county affected by the change; or

      (c) The change in county boundaries to the electors of each county affected by the change when the change does not result in the formation of a new county.

      (2) Except as provided in ORS 202.050 and 202.060, the election shall be conducted in accordance with ORS chapters 246 to 260.

      (3) The ballot title for determination of a question submitted under this section shall be prepared as provided in ORS 250.185. [Amended by 1983 c.350 §10; 1999 c.708 §1]

 

      202.040 Commissioners to arrange terms on proposal to change boundaries. (1) In case the petition provided for in ORS 202.020 is for a change in the boundaries of existing counties, but not for the elimination of any then existing county, the county courts of the counties concerned shall appoint two commissioners each to act with the commissioners of the other counties and arrange the terms in respect to assumption of liabilities and division of assets among the counties concerned, upon which such change shall be made.

      (2) If within 30 days after the appointment of the commissioners they have not agreed upon terms, the Governor, upon request of the county court of any county concerned, shall appoint commissioners equal in number to one-half the commissioners already appointed by the counties, who shall meet with such commissioners and draft terms.

      (3) Within 60 days thereafter a majority of the commissioners may report to respective county courts a plan for division, which, in addition to the matters mentioned in subsection (1) of this section, may define the territory embraced in the proposed changes.

      (4) When made within such time the plan shall be reported by the commissioners to the respective county courts, and if approved by a vote, as provided in ORS 202.030 and 202.060, it shall become a compact between and among such counties, binding upon all. [Amended by 1983 c.350 §11]

 

      202.050 Certification of election to Secretary of State. The county clerk in each county in which an election under ORS 202.030 is held shall certify to the Secretary of State a copy of the summary of votes cast on the question of creating a new county or changing boundaries. The county clerk also shall certify to the Secretary of State the name, territorial contents and boundaries of the new county, or the names, territorial contents and boundaries of the counties affected by the change in boundaries. [Amended by 1983 c.350 §12]

 

      202.060 Proclamation by Governor. (1) The Governor shall issue a proclamation declaring a new county created if an election for the purpose of establishing a new county is held and a majority of all electors registered within the limits of the proposed new county voted at the election in favor of the creation of the new county.

      (2) The Governor shall issue a proclamation declaring the change in county boundaries if an election for the purpose of changing county boundaries is held, and if a majority of all the electors of each of the counties to be affected by the change in boundaries voted in favor of the proposed change in county boundaries.

      (3) If a county is eliminated pursuant to a boundary change under subsection (1) or (2) of this section, the Governor shall declare in the proclamation what counties were eliminated by the change. [Amended by 1983 c.83 §15; 1999 c.708 §2]

 

      202.070 Operation and effect of proclamation. (1) If the election was for the purpose of establishing a new county, it thereafter shall be a county for all civil, military and other purposes.

      (2) If the election was for the purpose of changing county boundaries, the boundaries of the county shall be changed to conform to the description furnished by the county clerk in the certificate provided in ORS 202.050. If such change in county boundaries resulted in the elimination of any existing county, thereafter the eliminated county shall cease to function and the authority of its officers shall cease for all purposes other than the auditing and paying of all outstanding claims against such county and the safekeeping of all county property until proper transfers and assignments of the same have been made.

      (3) If the election was for the purpose of changing county boundaries, the change shall take effect within 30 days after the Governor issues the proclamation provided for in ORS 202.060 and the territory taken from any county and added to another county by reason of the change shall become a part of the county to which it has been added and for all purposes shall be deemed a portion thereof and be governed by the laws of this state relating to counties.

 

      202.080 Boundaries to conform to established legal subdivisions; filing boundary change with county assessor and Department of Revenue. (1) In the establishment of any proposed new county and in the establishment of the boundaries of counties in which a change is proposed, the same shall be made to conform to the established government legal subdivisions.

      (2) For purposes of ad valorem taxation, a boundary change must be filed in final approved form with the county assessor and the Department of Revenue as provided in ORS 308.225. [Amended by 2001 c.138 §6]

 

      202.090 Validity of election. Refusal or neglect of any official to perform duties in connection with any election under this chapter shall not affect the validity of the election. [Amended by 1983 c.350 §13]

 

      202.100 County judge and commissioners for new county. (1) Not later than the 30th day after the Governor issues the proclamation provided for in ORS 199.790 or 202.060, the Governor shall appoint three electors, who must be residents of the new county so formed, to serve as county judge and commissioners for the new county. When the persons appointed accept and qualify for their offices under ORS 204.016 and 204.020, the new county shall have existence as a county and shall be governed by the laws of this state relating to counties. The persons appointed shall serve until the first Monday in January after the general election, or, if applicable, after the election specified in ORS 249.088, at which their successors are elected.

      (2) At the next practicable general election, or, if applicable, at the next practicable election specified in ORS 249.088, following the appointment, successors to the persons appointed under this section shall be elected. The candidate receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected county judge. If the office of county judge has judicial functions, the candidate shall be elected to a six-year term. If the office of county judge has no judicial functions, the candidate shall be elected to a four-year term. The candidate receiving the second highest number of votes shall be elected to a four-year term as commissioner. The candidate receiving the third highest number of votes shall be elected to a two-year term as commissioner.

      (3) The successors shall take office on the first Monday in January next following their election.

      (4) At each general election, or, if applicable, at each election specified in ORS 249.088, following the election at which the first board is elected, a successor shall be elected to fill any expiring term. [Amended by 1983 c.350 §14; 1997 c.494 §20; 2001 c.430 §6]

 

      202.110 Other county officers. (1) The county judge and the county commissioners appointed under ORS 202.100, acting as a county court, shall appoint a sheriff, a county clerk, a county assessor, a county treasurer and a county surveyor. An officer appointed under this subsection must be an elector of the new county and must accept and qualify for the office under ORS 204.016 and 204.020 before beginning service. The officers, except the county surveyor, appointed under this subsection shall serve until the first Monday in January after the election at which their successors are elected. The county surveyor appointed pursuant to this section serves for the term specified in ORS 204.010.

      (2) At the next practicable general election following the appointment, successors to the county officers, except the county surveyor, appointed under subsection (1) of this section shall be elected. The successors shall take office on the first Monday in January next following their election.

      (3) All justices and constables in office within the boundaries of any new county shall continue to hold office in such new county during the remainder of their term, and shall give bonds to the new county of the same amount and in the same manner as previously given to the original county in which they were elected or appointed.

      (4) At each general election following the general election at which the first county officers under this section are elected, a successor shall be elected to fill any expiring term. [Amended by 1983 c.350 §15; 2009 c.491 §5]

 

      202.120 Locating county seat. (1) The county court of the new county may temporarily fix the county seat, and such location shall remain the county seat until the first general election thereafter, when the electors of the new county are empowered to vote for and select the place of county seat in the manner provided by law.

      (2) Immediately after the selection of the county seat either by the county court or by the canvass of the returns of votes cast at the election for that purpose, the county court shall issue its proclamation and publish the same in a newspaper published in the new county, if there is one, and if not by posting a copy of the proclamation in each election precinct in the county announcing the selection and location of the county seat.

 

      202.130 State laws to govern county court. In all matters not specially provided for in this chapter, the county court appointed as provided in ORS 202.100 shall be governed by the laws of this state then existing in relation to counties.

 

      202.140 Compensation of members of county court. The members of the county court of any new county organized under this chapter, while in the discharge of their duties as provided in this chapter, shall receive the same compensation as is allowed by law for the performance of their ordinary official duties.

 

      202.150 Disposition of public property, records and tax liens. (1) All public buildings, records or other public property within the limits of the original county shall remain and be the property of such original county; but, if the election is held for change in county boundaries, and any public building belonging to the county is located in the territory affected by the change of boundaries, the county acquiring the new territory shall pay the county from which such territory is taken the value of such public building.

      (2) If any county is eliminated by the change in county boundaries, all public buildings and real property of the eliminated county and all liens for unpaid taxes become the property of the county acquiring the territory where the property is situated, and all public records and documents and all other property of every kind belonging to the eliminated county become the property of the county of which the largest area of the eliminated county becomes a part.

 

      202.160 Transcription of real estate, court and tax records. (1) When a new county is organized in whole or in part from any existing county it shall be the duty of the county court of the new county to cause to be transcribed in the proper books all the records of deeds, mortgages and other instruments, probate records, court records and tax records relating to or affecting real estate in the new county. The cost of transcription shall be paid by the new county.

      (2) When the election has been for a change in county boundaries, the county court of the county to which territory has been added shall cause to be transcribed in the proper books all the records of deeds, mortgages and other instruments, probate records and court records and tax records affecting or relating to real estate in such territory.

      (3) Any person authorized by the county court to transcribe records pursuant to subsection (1) or (2) of this section shall have free access at all reasonable times to the original records for the purpose of transcribing the same. All records so transcribed shall have the same force and effect in all respects as original records.

      (4) Whenever the boundaries of an existing county are changed so as to include territory theretofore within the boundaries of another county, the county court of the county to which territory has been added shall, within 60 days after the taking effect of the Act adding such territory, procure or cause to be procured, properly attested copies of the records of any county in which the lands were theretofore situated, affecting the title to the real estate within the additional territory, and have the same recorded in the records of the county. Thereafter such records shall be recognized and become a part of the official records of the county in which the same shall be so recorded, and such official records or duly certified copies thereof may be introduced in evidence with the same force and effect as the original records of which they are copies.

 

      202.170 Transfer of records. (1) When a new county is organized in whole or in part from any existing county and any record or any volume of any records of the county from which the new county is created relate wholly to property located within the new county, such records or volumes thereof shall be transferred by the officer of the old county who is in charge thereof to the officer of the new county whose duty it is to make and keep such records and take a receipt therefor. The receipt shall be filed by the officer receiving the same and shall be a sufficient accounting by and discharge to such officer for the disposition of such records. When the records have been so transferred, they shall be considered records of the county in which the property is then situated. Such records shall not be transcribed as in the case of records containing deeds, mortgages and other instruments relating to property in both counties.

      (2) In the event of the elimination of any county in a change of county boundaries, all records of the eliminated county shall immediately be transferred to the county of which the largest area of the eliminated county becomes a part and be original records of such county.

 

      202.180 Transfer of electors’ registration records and election records. (1) The county court of a new county or a county to which territory has been added shall, respectively:

      (a) Cause all the registration records of electors living in the new county or in the territory that has been added to an existing county to be segregated from the registration records on file in the counties from which the new county is created or the county from which the territory has been removed;

      (b) Cause the registration records to be delivered to the county clerk of the new county or the county to which the territory has been added; and

      (c) Provide for the transfer to the county clerk of the new county or the county to which the territory has been added a list of electors and other election records, relating only to precincts and electors within the new county or the territory that has been added to an existing county.

      (2) The county clerk of the new county or the county to which the territory has been added shall arrange and install the registration records received under subsection (1) of this section in the manner provided by law. The registration records constitute registration of the electors whose names appear on the records in the new county or the county to which the territory has been added, respectively.

      (3) The list of electors and other registration and election records are records of the new county or the county to which the territory has been added, respectively.

      (4)(a) If a county boundary change occurs on a date within a period described in paragraph (b) of this subsection, the change is not effective for purposes of eligibility for elections within the territory that is removed from one county and added to another county until the day after the respective ending date described in paragraph (b) of this subsection.

      (b) The periods referred to in paragraph (a) of this subsection are the periods:

      (A) Beginning on the day after the 90th day before a primary election or a general election and ending on the day of the election; or

      (B) Beginning on the day after the deadline for filing the notice of election before any election, other than a primary election or a general election, that is held by a county, district or other municipal corporation affected by the boundary change and ending on the day of the election. [Amended by 2007 c.154 §59; 2013 c.326 §6]

 

      202.190 Payment of moneys due from state. All moneys due from the State of Oregon to a new county shall be paid to the county treasurer of the new county in the manner and at the same time that such moneys are paid to the other counties of the state. All moneys due from the state to a county from which any territory is taken by reason of change in the boundaries thereof shall be paid to the treasurer of the two counties affected in proportion to the change in the territory affected by the change in boundaries. [Amended by 1975 c.614 §3]

 

      202.200 Apportionment of state taxes payable. A new county’s proportion of the state taxes shall be determined as follows:

      (1) If the new county is formed from one county, the new county shall pay its pro rata share of the amount of state taxes which the county from which it is formed is to pay for that year, and for each succeeding year thereafter until otherwise provided for, based upon the ratio that the taxable valuation of the property in the new county bears to the taxable valuation of the property of the original county before the new county was formed.

      (2) If the new county is formed from more than one county, the new county shall pay its pro rata share of the amount of state taxes which each of the counties from which it is formed is to pay for that year, and for each succeeding year thereafter until otherwise provided for, based upon the ratio that the taxable valuation of the property in the area taken from each original county bears to the taxable valuation of the property in each original county before the new county was formed.

      (3) In the event the election was for the purpose of a change in county boundaries and a portion of the territory in one county has been added to another county, the state taxes shall be adjusted in the same manner and upon the same basis as in the formation of new counties from more than one county.

 

      202.210 Ascertainment, apportionment and assumption of indebtedness. (1) Any new county organized under this chapter shall assume and pay, as provided in this section, a just proportion of the indebtedness of the counties from which it is segregated, based upon the last assessed valuation of the original counties, and in proportion that the valuation within the segregated portion bears to the aggregate valuation of the whole original counties.

      (2) In the event of a change in boundaries and the addition of a portion of the territory of one county to another county, the county to which such territory is added shall assume and pay, as provided in this section, a just proportion of the indebtedness of the county from which the territory is segregated based upon the last assessed valuation of the county from which the territory is segregated, in proportion that the valuation within the segregated portion bears to the aggregate valuation of the original county from which the territory is taken.

      (3) It shall be the duty of the county courts of both the new county organized under this chapter and the counties from which the new county is segregated, or the county courts of the two counties in which a change of boundaries has been effected, to meet together at the county seat of the new county or at the county seat of the county from which such territory is taken by a change of boundaries, on the third Monday in the sixth month following the date of the proclamation of the Governor, as provided for in ORS 202.060. They shall ascertain, as near as may be, the total outstanding indebtedness of the original counties on the first day of January following the election, and from the total indebtedness shall make the following deductions:

      (a) The amount of all dues for rents.

      (b) The reasonable value of all public buildings owned by and remaining within the limits of the original counties.

      (c) The amount of public funds on hand and belonging to the original counties on the day for which its outstanding indebtedness is ascertained by the joint board of county courts, and not belonging to the special funds mentioned in ORS 202.220.

      (4) The amount remaining after such deductions have been made shall, for the purposes and as a basis for the settlement, be the amount which the new county or the county acquiring territory by a change in boundaries, shall pay as a portion of, in the proportions specified. Such joint courts shall ascertain and fix the amount the new county shall assume and pay to the counties from which it is segregated, and the amount the county acquiring the new territory by reason of change in boundaries shall assume and pay to the county from which such territory is segregated.

      (5) If by a change in county boundaries, an existing county has been eliminated, the county courts of the counties to which the territory formerly constituting the eliminated county has been added shall meet with the court of the eliminated county at the county seat of the eliminated county on the third Monday of the month following the date of the proclamation of the Governor, and shall determine as provided in this section the amount of any net outstanding indebtedness of the eliminated county. Each county to which territory from the eliminated county has been added shall assume and pay its proportional part of the indebtedness of the eliminated county to the county to which the largest area of the eliminated county has been added and such county shall pay off all outstanding indebtedness of the county eliminated. However, the territory of the county eliminated shall be responsible for its own net indebtedness at the time of elimination of the county and the property therein shall be subject to such further tax levies from year to year as may be necessary to retire the outstanding indebtedness of the eliminated county as the same shall come due, but such territory shall not become liable for any outstanding indebtedness of any county to which a portion or all of the eliminated county shall have been added.

 

      202.220 Disposition of special funds and property. All moneys belonging to special funds, such as fire, school, roads and other funds and property owned by the districts within the boundaries of the new county organized under this chapter or owned by the districts in the territory affected by the change in boundaries segregated under the provisions of this chapter on hand at the time of the settlement provided for in ORS 202.210, shall be turned over in full by the county court of the original county to the county court of the new county, or to the county court of the county acquiring the new territory, and shall be receipted for by the latter and placed to the credit of the districts of the county to which the property belonged.

 

      202.230 Distribution of funds in excess of indebtedness. (1) Any county in which the amount of public funds on hand at the time of the settlement provided for in ORS 202.210 exceeds the total of its outstanding indebtedness shall, after making the deductions provided for in ORS 202.210 (3), from the amount of such public funds on hand pay over to the county segregated from it and organized under this chapter or to the county acquiring territory under a change of boundaries, a just proportion of such funds based upon the next last assessed valuations of the original county prior to the date of such segregations and in the proportion which the valuation within the segregated portion bears to the aggregate of the valuation within the whole of the original counties. The county courts shall meet as provided in ORS 202.210 and ascertain the amount so to be paid.

      (2) The county court of the original counties shall issue warrants for such amount, payable immediately to the treasurer of the new county organized under this chapter, or to the treasurer of the county acquiring new territory, and the amounts so received by the latter shall be placed to the credit of the proper funds of the county.

 

      202.240 Payment of apportioned indebtedness. The amount of indebtedness of a county organized or acquiring new territory as provided in this chapter, as ascertained by the joint board of county courts, shall be paid to the county from which it segregates or from which the territory is taken, in the warrants of the new county thus segregated or the warrants of the county acquiring new territory, as the case may be.

 

      202.250 Authority to collect revenues. The authority of any county from which a portion is segregated under this chapter, for the collection of revenue within the boundaries of the portion segregated shall cease from the date upon which the two county courts, under the provisions of ORS 202.210, base the settlement between such counties, and all assessments and levies made by the authority of the county from which such territory is segregated, by its officers in the lawful performance of their official duties, affecting any of the territories embraced in the boundaries of the new county or territory segregated by change in boundaries shall remain the same and shall be payable to, and be collected by, the lawful authorities of the new county or the lawful authorities of the county acquiring such new territory.

 

      202.260 Redistricting of county and filling of vacancies. The county courts of all the counties affected by the formation of the new county, or by a change in county boundaries, shall immediately after such segregations, redistrict their county into districts provided for by law, and shall fill the vacancies occasioned by such segregation in the manner provided for by law for filling vacancies.

 

      202.270 Renumbering of school and road districts. School districts and road districts within the counties affected by proceedings under this chapter, shall be renumbered so as to make their number in each county run consecutively, and the number of existing school districts may when necessary be changed to effect that purpose.

 

      202.280 Validity of school district bonds. The validity of bonds issued by any school district prior to the division of any county or prior to the change of county boundaries, under this chapter, shall in no wise be affected by such division nor by the renumbering of the school districts that may have issued such bonds.

 

      202.290 Judicial district affiliation. Any county organized under the provisions of this chapter shall, as soon as its organization is completed, constitute a judicial subdivision of the judicial district from which its largest area was taken upon the organization of the new county. The territory segregated by a change of boundaries shall belong to the same judicial district as that the county to which it has been added belonged to at the time of the segregation.

 

      202.300 [Repealed by 2015 c.212 §5]

 

      202.310 Venue of actions and proceedings. In all actions or proceedings, civil or criminal, for the prosecution of a crime committed or a cause of action arising within the boundaries of any judicial subdivision created under the provisions of this chapter, and properly triable in such subdivision under the provisions of the civil and criminal procedure statutes, the venue thereof shall be changed to the new county or to the county to which the territory has been added by the change in boundaries, by order of the court of the judicial district upon payment upon the demand of either party. The demand shall be served upon the opposite party or the attorney of the opposite party, if either can be found in the state, but if neither can be found therein then the change of venue may be made upon filing the demand with the court clerk or court administrator and such change of venue shall have effect in the manner provided by law for the change of venue. [Amended by 1993 c.223 §7]

 

      202.320 Place of return of processes, writs, bonds, notices and other papers. All processes, writs, bonds, notices, appeals, recognizances, papers and proceedings in actions changed to a new county under the provisions of this chapter issued and made returnable to the circuit court of the county from which a portion has been segregated or organized prior to the creation of such legal subdivision, shall be considered as made, taken and returnable to the circuit court within the boundaries of the judicial district to which the new county or segregated portion has been added. Such bonds, recognizances and obligations shall be payable to the new county and recoverable in the name of such new county, or payable to or recoverable in the name of the county to which the segregated portion has been added by reason of the change in boundaries. All papers and certified copies of all proceedings had in such action shall be transmitted by a court clerk or court administrator of the new county or a court clerk or court administrator of the county acquiring new territory by reason of the change in boundaries. [Amended by 1993 c.223 §8]_______________