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Assessor in Swift Co., Minn., mum after decision to put him on leave

BENSON -- It remains unknown whether Swift County assessor Ed Pederson will challenge action by the county board of commissioners placing him on paid leave and ending his appointment at year's end.

Reached recently at his home, Pederson said he is not able to comment on the matter, including whether or not he plans to challenge the actions taken against him.

The county is currently beginning a search for a new assessor.

The Swift County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 in a closed session May 15 to immediately place Pederson on paid leave and not renew his appointment as of Dec. 31, according to a report first published by the Swift County News Monitor of Benson.

The commissioners issued a prepared statement at the time. "In summary, a majority of the board of commissioners is dissatisfied with Mr. Pederson's performance and management of his department,'' it stated.

The action is the latest involving tension within the Swift County Courthouse dating to an Oct. 28, 2011, incident. Pederson had brought a fire-damaged, 12-gauge shotgun to the break room to ask Assistant County Assessor Wayne Knutson for his opinion on whether it could be repaired.

The sheriff was notified of the gun being in the courthouse.

The commissioners placed Pederson on paid leave while a felony charge of dangerous weapon possession in a courthouse was filed against him.

A subsequent plea agreement allows for dismissal of the charge and allows Pederson to have the matter expunged from the record if he has no subsequent violations within a year.

Pederson returned to work last December, but tensions have continued in the office. He sent the commissioners a letter March 31 seeking a meeting to express his concerns.

They discussed the request in a closed session April 17, and did not agree to meet with him.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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