Crow Wing County commissioners hope to save some money by combining the county’s auditor and treasurer offices.
Both are elected positions, and both of the incumbents plan to run for the new, combined job, said the Brainerd Dispatch.
It’s not an unusual change; 64 of Minnesota’s 87 counties already have combined auditor/treasurer positions, said Bill Monn, executive director of the Minnesota Association of County Officers.
The Crow Wing commissioners approved the plan unanimously Tuesday night. They could have put the decision to a public vote, but that would have cost about $100,000 in election costs and delayed the new office opening until 2015.
With last night’s vote, the new combined office will come into existence Jan. 1, 2011. Both Auditor Deborah Erickson and Treasurer Laureen Borden said they’ll run.
Erickson, the auditor, favors the change; Borden doesn’t.
Erickson said the move would save about $140,000 with the elimination of two positions in wages and benefits along with office supplies. “I feel strongly there will be some extreme cost savings to the voters,” Erickson said.
There’s still a chance voters could weigh in on the issue by petitioning for a reverse referendum; that would require signatures of about 3,500 votes in a 30-day window starting Mar. 24.
Borden, the current treasurer, told the paper she’ll get started on the petition. “I was disappointed by the board’s action today,” Borden said. “I don’t think it will be a cost savings for any length of time.”
Said the paper:
Commissioner Rachel Reabe Nystrom said with the tough economic conditions and $3.5 million the board needs to cut from the budget, the board needed to combine the offices.
“This has nothing to do with the job you have done because you have done an outstanding job,” Nystrom told Borden. “There is no sacred cow left. We don’t have room in the barn for sacred cows anymore.
“I don’t do this with enthusiasm. I do it with a sense of regret but I think it’s something we have to do.”