County board says no to appt. measure

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voiced opposition to a Minnesota House of Representatives bill that would allow the county the choice of appointing the auditor-treasurer and recorder.

The commissioners passed a resolution unanimously that states they opposed the inclusion of Freeborn County in the bill.

“I am pleased that our board made a strong statement for the taxpayers’ right to vote for recorder and auditor-treasurer,” said board Chairman Dan Belshan in an email statement. “County commissioners control the budgets of those offices, so if cost-saving measures are found, the board could take those measures now, without appointments.”

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The bill was introduced for the first time in the House on April 18 to include only Marshall County. On May 2, District 27A Rep. Rich Murray amended the bill to include Freeborn and Mower counties.

Murray said the bill gives counties the choice to appoint the auditor-treasurer and recorder, but it would not mandate appointment as the only option.

Counties can continue forward with elections for these positions, but if down the road they choose to use the appointment option, it would be available.

“It doesn’t do anything to force anyone to do an appointment,” Murray said. “All I’ve done is give them a tool. If at some point they want to bring this up they could. All this is, is a tool in the toolbox; they’d never have to take it out.”

He said more than 50 counties currently appoint either one or both of these positions.

Murray said he had talked closely with Kluever, Auditor-Treasurer Dennis Distad, Recorder Kelly Callahan and even a few of the commissioners about the bill and thought they were in favor of it.

To appoint the position, four out of five of the board members would have to vote in favor, and then after the vote there would be a 60-day window allowing for public input. The public can overturn the appointment with 10 percent of voters petitioning the action.

The board’s resolution states commissioners were not consulted about including Freeborn County in the bill and did not approve of doing so.

Murray said the bill has passed the House of Representatives but has not been heard in the Senate.