FARGO — Retired County Finance Director Mike Montplaisir said some refer to his office as the "garbage department."

"That's because everything always seems to end up here," he joked.

The 69-year-old longtime courthouse fixture had his last day of work on Tuesday, Aug. 3, and said it was time after working in the office for 33 years.

Montplaisir started as a senior accountant in the office in 1988 before being elected to his first of seven terms as the auditor in 1990. He ran unopposed in each election.

The office was combined with the recorder's and treasurer's departments in 2017, which added more responsibility but also streamlined the operations. His title was then changed to finance director.

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With more changes on the horizon, Montplaisir said it was a good time to step down.

In his 30 years of service, Montplaisir said many improvements had been made in streamlining county financial and election systems. Three more changes are imminent when the county switches over to a more modern payroll, human resources and accounting systems.

"It'll be good for the new director to get in on the ground floor of those systems," he said.

Some of his highlights as Montplaisir mentioned were keeping the property taxes on an even keel so there weren't "big jumps or drops" in the rates.

"That's when taxpayers take notice," he said.

The county's reserve funds were also increased from 17% to 20%, which is more acceptable in government financing and puts the county on a more stable footing.

His other highlights, he said, were the addition of the new county jail, as well as the 10-year-old west addition to the courthouse.

The county's growth has been something to see in 30 years, he added. When Montplaisir started, a mill raised about $160,000 from county property owners, now it raises about $1 million for the county.

Working on budgets, one of which the county board gave its preliminary approval to on Monday, Aug. 2, has gone well with county commissioners over the years, he said.

"The commissioners don't always agree and sometimes agree to disagree, but then they go on with life," he said about his experiences.

Chairman Chad Peterson during the county budget meeting Monday said Montplaisir's work "made our job far too easy."

The county has done a lot of things "the right way and you led us there," he told Montplaisir at the meeting.

Montplaisir plans to spend some time traveling and visiting his children in Oregon and Arizona. He also plans to make tee times in the Red River Seniors Golf League.

As he steps out of office, Montplaisir said he's confident in the qualifications of the three finalists who were interviewed by a five-member committee on Wednesday, Aug. 4, with the new director expected to be named at the Aug. 16 meeting.

The finalists were two current employees in his office, senior accountant Sarah Heinle, and banking and tax accountant Alicia Hildebrand. The third candidate is Brandy Madrigga, who is the senior controller for the City of Winnipeg.