County delays making treasurer appointed job

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By Reed Anfinson
No one showed up at the Swift County Board of Commissioners meeting last Tuesday for the public hearing on making the county treasurer’s position appointed rather than elected.
No one wrote the county board with an opinion taking the county voters out of the picture on the treasurer’s position.
 “Are there any comments?” Commissioner Gary Hendrickx, District 1-Appleton, asked.
“I don’t think so,” Chair Joe Fox, District 4-Hegbert Township, replied.
Hendrickx then moved to close the public hearing with a second by Commissioner Pete Peterson, District 3-south Benson and Torning Township.
With no further discussion, the motion passed with Hendrickx, Fox, Peterson, Commissioner Ed Pederson, District 2-north Benson and Benson Township, and Commissioner Eric Rudningen, District 5-Kerkhoven, voting in favor of closing the hearing.
While the public hearing was short, the discussion on passing a resolution to make the treasurer’s position appointed and approving a two-year contract with Treasurer Ron Vadnais was not.
The process for moving the treasurer’s position to one appointed by the county board was set in motion last month when Vadnais formally notified commissioners that he would not file for an 11th four-year term in 2022.
Counties were given the authority to make the change under a law passed by the Minnesota Legislature. Under the state statute, it says counties can make the change when:
(1) There is a vacancy in the office;
(2) The current officeholder has notified the county board that the officer will not file for the office;
(3) And there is a signed contract with the county board and the incumbent auditor, treasurer, auditor-treasurer, or recorder that provides that the incumbent officer will be appointed to the position and retain tenure, pay, and benefits equal to or greater than length of service.
At the same time, Vadnais’ letter was presented to the county board, a proposed two-year contract between him and the county for his continued service was also presented. That contract would run from Jan. 1, 2022 to Dec. 31, 2023.
Vadnais was elected to his 10th four-year term in November 2018. The term runs from Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2022. Officially, it ends the first business day of 2023, which is Jan. 3.
Year one of the proposed contract between him and the county would go from Jan. 1, 2022, to Dec. 31, 2022. Officially, his last day as an elected official would be Jan. 3, 2023, the first business day of the new year.
Then starting Jan. 3, 2023, the county board would appoint Vadnais as the county’s financial officer, with his contract running until Dec. 31, 2023.
During this second year of the contract, the county would likely be advertising for someone to fill the position with Vadnais then assisting in the transition process. He could resign his appointed position before the end of the second year of the contract through mutual agreement between him and the county board.
Vadnais was first elected to the treasurer’s position in 1982 and rarely faced opposition as he easily was consistently re-elected.

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