County considers public hearing on appointment of auditor-treasurer

A workshop following the regular meeting of the Le Sueur County Board Tuesday, Aug. 6, held to discuss the possibility of making the office of auditor-treasurer an appointed position, resulted in the commissioners deciding to consider a public hearing on the issue.
 
The subject could be on the agenda for the Tuesday, Aug. 13 board meeting. A hearing would give the public the opportunity to share opinions on the issue, and if positive, the board would then have two options: hold a referendum or approach legislative representatives to sponsor a bill for making the change.
 
Pam Simonette is the current interim auditor-treasurer, appointed to the position following the resignation of Joe Boettcher in May. Under the current elective process, her  four-year position would be up for election in 2014, since she is filling out Boettcher’s term.
 
County Administrator Darrell Pettis said this issue has been discussed previously, since some counties, Nicollet and Blue Earth as examples in the area, appoint their auditor-treasurer. Five other counties have applied through legislative channels, but failed to have their bill passed by both the Senate and House.
 
Pettis recommended working toward the public hearing route.
 
Currently the positions of auditor-treasurer, recorder, sheriff, county attorney and surveyor are elective, while county administrator, highway engineer, assessor and veterans service officer (naming a few) are appointed. 
 
“There is seldom any competition for some of the positions, since candidates would need to be qualified for the offices,” commented Commissioner Joe Connolly.
 
The commissioners were unanimous in believing public opinion is most important, and in one case, the elective process is best.
 
Board Chair Steve Rohlfing said, “People may want to speak their mind.” 
 
Commissioner Connolly said, “The public should help decide.” 
 
Commissioner Lance Wetzel said, “I am a definite ‘no’ in changing from the elective process.” 
 
Commissioner David Gliszinski agreed on getting the public’s side saying, “Public opinion is very important.” 
 
Commissioner John King also commented, “A public hearing would give people the opportunity to express their opinion.”
 
When asked her opinion on how a new person would manage in the auditor-treasurer position, Simonette said, “A new person, if elected, would probably have a difficult time, since we have to deal with finances such as bonds, investments and other financial matters in the office.”
 
Pettis said he will provide possible dates for a public hearing at the next meeting.
 
The board also:
• Was introduced to new staff in public health by Director Cindy Shaughnessy:
Kelly Jones, RN Case Manager; Micha Erickson, Home Health Aide; Tricia Christensen, Administrative Assistant; and Vanessa Holicky, RN, PHN Family Health.
 
Shaughnessy also issued certificates of appreciation for 11 years of service on the Public Health Advisory Committee for Irene Casey and the late Jerome Schleis. Replacing them are Peggy Sullivan in the Le Sueur area and Cathy Herrmann in the Montgomery area.