County votes to support 2 appointed positions

Published 8:49 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday supported state legislation allowing for the appointment of auditor/treasurer and county recorder positions.

The measure passed on a 4-1 vote. Commissioners Glen Mathiason, Jim Nelson, Mike Lee and Chris Shoff voted yes. District 2 Commissioner Dan Belshan was the lone no vote.

If the legislation passes, Freeborn County will be able to decide to appoint the positions. It will not be a requirement.

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Before voting no, Belshan asked if the question could be placed on the general election ballot, which is not possible at this time.

He said although he was “pretty neutral” on the idea, he felt taxpayers should decide whether auditor/treasurer and county recorder positions should be elected or appointed.

Shoff said he believes the state bill allowing all counties with such elected seats to appoint the positions will pass this year because Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka supports the measure. He said the county has been fortunate competent officials have been elected.

He said in supporting the legislation, Freeborn County was signing on to a years-long Association of Minnesota Counties priority.

Freeborn County Administrator Thomas Jensen has expressed concern that candidates for the two positions only need to have $50 and be Freeborn County residents, despite the numerous requirements the positions hold.

Minnesota began allowing counties to seek special legislation for the appointment of the officers in 1967.

Jensen noted 63 Minnesota counties have appointed auditor/treasurer and recorder positions. At least one other county is reportedly seeking that change this session.

In other action, commissioners:

Granted Ulland Brothers Inc. conditional approval to crush a 43,000-ton recycled concrete stockpile at 24302 755th Ave., approximately 2,000 feet from Good Samaritan Society of Albert Lea.

Approved out-of-state travel for Public Health Director Sue Yost to attend a local response to emerging public health threats conference April 15-17 in Atlanta.

Approved sponsoring the 2019 Governor’s Fishing Opener for up to $5,000. The sponsorship will allow the county to have exposure and a presence during the event. Jensen said the cost will be less than $5,000 and the event is expected to allow commissioners to personally communicate with state legislators and Gov. Tim Walz. The measure passed on a 4-1 vote. Belshan was the lone no vote.


About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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