The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 31, 2013

Le Sueur County mulls move to appointment

Auditor-treasurer now elected

LE CENTER — The Le Sueur County Board is considering turning its elected auditor-treasurer into an appointed position.

County Administrator Darrell Pettis said the timing is good to consider the change because the previous auditor-treasurer resigned earlier this year.

“It’s the time to look at it and make a decision,” he said. “I’m giving information to the board, not campaigning either way.”

The position, which is responsible for the county’s finances, elections and licensing, was created in 2010 when the treasurer and auditor positions were merged. Both were previously elected.

Like most counties, Le Sueur has a mix of elected and appointed officials. In this case, voters pick the sheriff, county attorney, auditor-treasurer, recorder and surveyor. If the auditor-treasurer becomes an appointed position, the appointee would be chosen by the County Board and supervised by the county administrator.

The interim auditor-treasurer, Pam Simonette, supports the change to an appointed position.

“For a position like auditor-treasurer, you need somebody in here who’s qualified,” she said.

Unlike for would-be county sheriffs or attorneys, no licensing requirements exist to become an auditor-treasurer.

“Anybody who has $50 off the street isn’t necessarily the best qualified candidate,” said Simonette, who has worked at the county for 28 years.

Though the position is something of a mishmash of duties — operating the license center and administering elections, for example, seem to have little in common — it does call for financial expertise.

In 2012, the county collected $57 million, made payments of $61 million and handled about $13 million in investments.

Le Center resident Joe Boettcher, the previous auditor-treasurer, thinks voters can be trusted to pick a good candidate.

“The county I want to live in is the county that I can go up to the county offices and I know there’s going to be someone in that elected position that I can go to, that I hired as a voter, and say I’ve got a concern,” he said.

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