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Swift County continues transition of government structure

BENSON — The Swift County Commissioners took another step Monday in the gradual transition of their government structure.

During a special meeting, the Board of Commissioners approved the resignation of Mary Amundson as the elected county recorder and approved a memorandum of understanding to appoint Amundson to the same job.

While the job duties will not change, her title is now director of the land records department.

More significantly, the change ends the county’s history of having an elected recorder. From now on, that job will be an appointed position.

The commissioners also gave Auditor Byron Giese a new title as director of administrative services.

Giese’s job duties will not change and his role will last only until his retirement about four months from now.

After that the position will also be appointed, and voters will no longer elect an auditor.

Meanwhile, the commissioners agreed to interview two candidates for the administrator job.

The changes are part of the county’s efforts to restructure how it does business.

“From a public perception, they shouldn’t see a difference,” said Jim Mulder, a consultant who has helped the county work its way through the transition. “But in the long term, it allows the county more flexibility.”

County residents gave the commissioners permission to make the changes after approving two ballot measures in the general election this fall. Voters overwhelmingly agreed to have the posts of auditor and recorder be appointed positions.

At the same time the commissioners agreed to create a new position of an administrator.

It was hoped then that both Amundson and Giese would resign Dec. 31 from their elected positions and the commissioners would then appoint them.

That worked out fine for Amundson, but it was recently discovered that resigning now would complicate Giese’s pension with the Public Employees Retirement Association. Therefore Giese’s part of the transition included just a title change. He will continue to serve as the elected auditor until he retires.

The commissioners had also hoped to have an administrator on board by now.

Their two top candidates, however, rejected the job offer, primarily because they had second thoughts about uprooting their young families, Swift County Chairman Gary Hendrickx said.

The commissioners reviewed applications Monday and selected three candidates to interview Jan. 10.

Hendrickx said it may take a while to accomplish the goals to increase efficiency and improve services to county residents, but he said the initial steps show they are “amenable to changing county government and how it’s been done and how we’re going forward.”

Hendrickx said, “This first step is a good step for us. It starts us moving in that direction.”

Monday was also the last day in office for District 5 Commissioner Doug Anderson, who did not run for re-election. He had served since 2001.

Eric Rudningen was elected to the position.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750