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Kandiyohi County takes first step in considering auditor, recorder appointments

WILLMAR — The Kandiyohi County Board of Commissioners took another step in a process to consider appointing the county auditor/treasurer and recorder.

Currently those positions are elected by county voters.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the commissioners agreed to conduct a public hearing at 10 a.m. March 18 to take public comments on the options of appointing or electing the two officers.

Notification of the hearing is to “notify the public that we want to have that discussion,” said County Administrator Larry Kleindl.

The board will vote that day on whether or not to adopt a resolution to proceed with the appointment process.

Adoption of the resolution requires a vote of at least 80 percent of the board, which means four of the county’s five commissioners have to vote yes in order for it to be approved.

The board’s actions could be moot, however, if the Legislature does not approve a bill to allow the county to make the change to appointed positions.

Last year the Minnesota Senate approved legislation to allow Kandiyohi, Clay, Lake, Jackson and Lyon counties to utilize the appointment process.

That bill did not make it to the House last year for a vote.

But Kleindl said the bill was passed out of a House committee Feb. 27 and it is expected to go to the House floor for a vote soon — possibly within the next week.

If the Kandiyohi County Board does approve the appointment resolution, residents have 60 days to file a petition requesting a referendum to take the issue to voters.

The petition must be signed by at least 10 percent of the county’s registered voters. According to the county auditor’s office, the petition would need the signatures of about 2,374 people.

If there is no petition filed to take it to a public vote, then the resolution goes into effect once it is filed with the Secretary of State.

The commissioners began discussing the appointment option about two years ago when former auditor Sam Modderman retired mid-way through his four-year term. Mark Thompson was appointed to fill Modderman’s unexpired term.

If the appointment process is approved, it’s expected that Thompson and current County Recorder Julie Kalkbrenner would be appointed to their positions.

If the commissioners vote to retain the election process, or if the legislation is not approved and the county must stop the process of considering the appointment option, then Thompson and Kalkbrenner would have to run for election this fall.

Candidates can file to run for office starting May 20.