Questions on the possible appointment process for auditor-treasurer, recorder? Read on.
Wadena County is having a public hearing on Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. to discuss the possible change to an appointment process instead of election.
County commissioners are continuing their discussion on the county auditor-treasurer and recorder positions changing to appointment instead of election with a public hearing on Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. After the public hearing, the commissioners can decide to pass, fail or table a resolution on changing to appointment for the positions.
Here’s what you need to know about the 2019 Minnesota statute that makes the change possible, the history of the statute and what elected and appointed positions mean.
What does the statute say?
A portion of the statute reads: “A county board may appoint the county auditor, county treasurer, or county recorder under section 375A.10, subdivision 2, or the auditor-treasurer under section 375A.10, subdivision 5, by following the process outlined in this section.”
The statute process hinges on three notes: the public hearing, the incumbent’s agreeal on the change and the board’s action. The public hearing is the second step in the process after the public had been notified in four newspapers throughout Wadena County on Nov. 9 and 16.
If the positions are changed to appointed, they can still be changed back to election after three years, according to the Minnesota House Research Department .
What is the history of the statute?
While the conversation in Wadena County has been ongoing in the background for over two years, the process extends about 10-12 years . The option for appointing county positions has been in place since 1973 . Counties previously would receive approval from the state government through a special law for the change to appointment, which created a “hodgepodge” of laws in counties, according to Association of Minnesota Counties government relations manager Matt Hilgart.
Minnesota counties have historically had a “really unique” opportunity with a large number of positions being elected, including county coroner, as Hilgart said.
Minnesota laws also allow for combining of certain county positions, Wadena County combined the auditor-treasurer position in 1994 . General or special law changes related to the appointment or election of the auditor, treasurer and recorder positions have occurred in 80 of Minnesota’s 87 counties, according to the Minnesota House Research Department .
In the process of amending the statute, Wadena County commissioners worked with AMC, Minnesota Association of County Officers and Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) to write legislation on counties optionally changing to the appointment process. MACO represents auditor, treasurer and recorder officers. The statute took about 2-3 years to pass, according to Hilgart.
The “row officers” of auditor, treasurer and recorder are considered public facing positions often on the first floor of a county building, as Hilgart said.
What does an elected position mean?
The county auditor-treasurer and recorder positions are elected positions. The local voters elect people for the auditor-treasurer and recorder positions. The last Wadena County election for the positions was in 2018, with auditor-treasurer Heather Olson and recorder Soledad Henriksen as the winners.
The election can take place during a general or special election. The next general election is in 2022.
According to the Secretary of State , the qualifications for running for the auditor-treasurer and recorder positions include:
Eligible to vote in Minnesota;
Not filed for another office at the upcoming primary or general election;
Be 21-years-old or more upon assuming office;
Maintained residence in their district for at least 30 days before the general election.
A referendum about changing to an appointment process can also be placed on the ballot through a resolution by the county board or a voter petition.
What does an appointed position mean?
After the public hearing on Dec. 7, if the Wadena County board of commissioners approves the change, the county auditor-treasurer and recorder positions would become appointed. The Wadena County commissioners would appoint the people for the auditor-treasurer and recorder positions.
The board would need to pass the resolution for changing to an appointment process by a super majority vote after the public hearing.
The change to appointment would occur after the completion of Olson and Henriksen’s terms, or if a vacancy occurs, depending which comes first. Olson and Henriksen complete their terms in 2022. Both would then be appointed in possible four year terms.
Since the 2019 statute was passed about two or three counties have changed to appointment instead of election, according to Hilgart.
County positions that are currently appointed:
County positions that are currently elected:
The public hearing will be on Dec. 7 at 5 p.m. and the commissioners will meet on Dec. 15 at 9 a.m.