After 22 years of keeping tabs on Faribault County’s money, David Frank is ready to call it quits.
He officially retired as county treasurer last Wednesday.
“I was elected to the position in 1986,” he recalls. “McRea Willmert was retiring after 40 years of being the county treasurer.”
Willmert told Frank if he got elected that first time, he would be in the office until he was ready to retire.
“He was right,” Frank recalls. “I had seven people running against me in that first election, and I have never had anyone file against me again.”
Frank had been working at his family business, Frank Brothers Elevator, when it was sold in 1986. He was looking for a change in his employment and decided to run for the treasurer’s spot.
“It was a good decision, I have enjoyed it a lot,” he says. During his 22 years, he has worked with five different deputy treasurers and 14 different county commissioners.
“I have never had a problem, ever, with any of the commissioners,” Frank says. “I never lacked support from any of them – they were very good to me.”
This includes the late commissioner Tom Brown, who told Frank he felt the treasurer’s office would be combined with the auditor before Frank would retire.
“He was wrong – it didn’t happen before I retired,” Frank says. However, the county board has now appointed County Auditor John Thompson to be the interim auditor/treasurer, and is considering making that decision permanent.
“Over half of the counties in the state have combined those two offices, so it is nothing new,” Frank says. He adds he personally would like to keep it separate, and allow the voters to still elect the treasurer, but he understands the reason the board is considering it..
“Combining the two posts will save some budget funds, but not a lot,” he says. “There will still have to be a treasurer’s office and staff.” The county board sets the salary for the treasurer, as well as duties for the position, but Frank says most of what his office does is governed by state statute.
Those duties include collecting all funds due to the county, and dispersing monies where they need to go.
“We send out the tax statements and collect them,” Frank says. “We disburse tax revenues to the towns, cities and schools in the county several times a year.”
That means his office handles between $13 million and $16 million each year.
One of Frank’s duties is to invest those funds before they are used. Most are kept in banks and other institutions, although some are invested elsewhere.
He says the economic crisis in the country should not affect Faribault County’s monies.
“We do not have any high risk investments,” he says.
Frank has worked with the county board and office staff to make sure there is a smooth transition when he leaves.
“I want a full accounting of everything on the table so there never is any question,” he says.
Since he officially took office in January 1987, he is leaving after 21 years and 11 months.
“The reason why, is I want to start spending some holiday time with my family,” he says. “Particularly my grandchildren.”
Frank was born and raised in Blue Earth and plans on continuing to live here. His wife, Kathryn, works as a secretary at St.Paul Lutheran Church.
“She is going to work for a few more years, and after that we may travel some,” he says, although it is not high on his list.
“My hobbies include golf, fishing, antique tractors, and woodworking,” he explains. He plans on spending time in his wood shop, building family projects.
“Mainly I want to spend time with my grandsons,” he says. “They are getting to be the age when we can go fishing and golfing a lot.”
“My dad retired at 65 and my brother at 55 and they never had any trouble finding things to do,” he adds with a smile.
After 22 years in the courthouse, Frank says it was time to retire, but quickly adds it was a job he always liked, well, almost always.
“The worst part of the job was facing someone at the counter who was upset with their tax bill,” he admits. “After I explained it to them, they accepted it. They weren’t happy about it, but at least they understood the reasons behind the statement.”
He says he never had an issue with someone that wasn’t eventually resolved.
“The worst was when someone had to pay a penalty for being late,” he says. “Maybe they have paid their taxes on time for 30 years, but missed once. I have to tell them we need to follow the state statute.”
That can be difficult when you are dealing with people you have known all your life, Frank says.
“But I think most people understand,” he says. “I didn’t set the taxes, I just did the collecting.”
After 22 years, the tax collecting job will now be up to someone else.