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Commissioners to hear plan on combining offices

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WILLMAR -- Kandiyohi County Commissioners will hear details Tuesday on a proposal to combine the county assessor's office with the city of Willmar's assessor's office.

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If both sides eventually agree, the transition could begin as early as July. It would take about seven years to complete the process.

The city's labor relations committee is supporting the plan and will recommend the City Council takes action.

Commissioners are not expected to take formal action Tuesday, said County Administrator Larry Kleindl, but they will be briefed on the proposal could indicate whether or not they want discussions to continue with the city.

If the commissioners give the nod, Kleindl said he and City Administrator Michael Schmit "will get serious on some details."

The purpose of combining the departments is to "streamline government," Kleindl said. "We're trying to be more efficient."

Currently, both entities are "doing the same thing two blocks away from each other," Kleindl said. Combining offices will prevent duplication of services and save taxpayers money, which has been a directive issued by county leaders, Kleindl said.

Under the proposal, the county would take over the assessing duties for the city, with the city turning over 100 percent of its assessing budget to the county the first year. The city's financial share would decrease by about 12 percent each year until there's a zero allocation.

The city's four staff members in that department would be invited to work for the county at its office building, Kleindl said.

A merger of this kind isn't new for the city and county. In the 1980s, the city and county dispatch services were combined to create a single entity.

Kleindl said the city and county have a "great relationship" that allows cooperative projects to take place.

Also Tuesday, commissioners will take action on the tax levy request from the Housing and Redevelopment Authority and the 2011 budget request from the Economic Development Commission. Commissioners will also take action on their own proposed 2011 budget and levy.

Prior to the County Board meeting at 10 a.m., commissioners will meet as the Family Services Board at 9 a.m. Reports will be given on Save Avenues, Woodlands Centers and changes in chemical-use assessments.

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Carolyn Lange
A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers county government and regional news with the West Central Tribune.
(320) 894-9750
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