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Board faces decision on combining two county jobs

By Staff | Oct 5, 2009

It’s been on the back burner for a while, now the Faribault County Commission will decide whether to move forward with the idea of combining the auditor and treasurer positions.

Since Dec. 1, County Auditor John Thompson has been in charge of both offices following the resignation of David Frank.

At the board’s Tuesday meeting, Thompson says he’ll recommend commissioners approve a statement explaining to the public why the two jobs should be combined and remain an elected position.

“It’s worked out well. We’re getting the job done, and it’s because we have good staff and procedures,” he says.

Thompson, who was re-elected to a four-year term in 2006, was appointed to complete Frank’s term which expires in 2010.

In times when government entities are looking for ways to trim budgets, a system that is efficient and results in cost-savings are reasons favoring one person doing both jobs.

In the past, Thompson has said he supports the idea if an accountant also is hired. However, he says that is not possible at this time.

“The way the budget is it wouldn’t be right to hire an accountant now,” he says. “Eventually I would recommend they do that.”

The statement, says Thompson, will be only two paragraphs and list the advantages of joining the two offices.

If the board approves the statement, it most likely will be published in the Register on Oct. 12.

“That will give people an opportunity to get back to their commissioner and tell them what they think,” he says.Thompson says commissioners will vote on the proposed change at their Nov. 3 meeting, which is also election day.

He says four of the five board members must vote in favor of the resolution to combine the positions.

Because the auditor-treasurer position will remain an elected office, he says, a public referendum vote is not required.

If the board passes the resolution on Nov. 3, it will be published on Nov. 9 and 16.

Thompson says the public may still call for a referendum vote on whether to merge the offices.

He says petitions signed by 10 percent of those who voted in the county last November must be turned into his office within 30 days after the second publication of the resolution.

“The petitions will require 900 signatures. And, the clock for the 30 days starts ticking after Nov. 16,” says Thompson.

Combining the two positions is nothing new. Currently, 55 of the state’s 87 counties have done so.