Appointment proposal moves forward
Cass County is moving ahead on a proposal to convert some elected offices into appointed positions. County commissioners voted 4-1 on Monday to draft an ordinance that would change the auditor, recorder and treasurer into appointed positions. Tho...
Cass County is moving ahead on a proposal to convert some elected offices into appointed positions.
County commissioners voted 4-1 on Monday to draft an ordinance that would change the auditor, recorder and treasurer into appointed positions.
Those officeholders are traditionally elected, but some say the positions should be changed because they require specific skills and training rather than policymaking. Incumbents often run unopposed.
"It just seems these offices have become less political and more technical," Commissioner Scott Wagner said.
That was one of the reasons a citizens advisory committee recommended the change. The County Commission's power to make the change is specifically laid out in Cass County's home rule charter, passed by voters in 1994.
State law also allows the positions to be made appointed, combined or both. Citizens can refer the issue to a public vote if they disagree.
Commissioner Ken Pawluk, who cast the dissenting vote, thinks the commission should send the issue to an advisory vote anyway.
He urged the commission to tread carefully when taking power away from the electorate.
"I think that the idea is good, but I'm not willing to go through with this without an advisory vote," Pawluk said.
Commissioner Darrell Vanyo said residents will have ample time to voice their opinions before commissioners consider final approval for the ordinance, which hasn't been written yet. The county plans a public hearing.
Wagner thinks residents voted on the issue when they approved the home rule charter.
He said a number of elected positions have become appointed over the last decade.
In 1994, the state had 97 appointed positions and 570 elected positions, he said. Last year, the state's 53 counties had 135 appointed positions and 461 elected positions.
If Cass County's proposal passes, County Recorder Deanna Kensrud's position would likely be the first to become appointed. She does not plan to seek re-election when her term expires next year.
Also on Monday, commissioners agreed to set up a special meeting with the Horace City Council to discuss a road dispute.
The county pays to maintain the section of Cass County Highway 17 running through Horace city limits, but state law gives the city power to make decisions about access.
As a result, the county is discussing turning that section of road over to Horace or forming an agreement.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Domaskin at (701) 241-5556