Cass County Board: Committee formed to find new county attorney

WOODROW TOWNSHIP -- Cass County Board appointed commissioners Bob Kangas and Dick Downham to serve as a committee of the board to recommend an appointment to county attorney following Christopher Strandlie's resignation.


WOODROW TOWNSHIP - Cass County Board appointed commissioners Bob Kangas and Dick Downham to serve as a committee of the board to recommend an appointment to county attorney following Christopher Strandlie's resignation.

The board met at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Woodrow Town Hall east of Hackensack. Commissioners Scott Bruns and Neal Gaalswyk were absent.

Strandlie's resignation will take effective Oct. 6 when he will be sworn in as a district court judge.

Administrator Joshua Stevenson advised the board First Assistant Attorney Barb Harrington will head the county attorney's office until the county board appoints a new county attorney. He said his research on state statutes and court rulings indicate the board cannot let Harrington hold that interim position until the regular November 2018 county attorney election.

The board must appoint someone to fill out Strandlie's unexpired term, Stevenson said.


Stevenson, a representative from the probation department and from health, human and veterans services also will serve on the committee with the two commissioners. Sheriff Tom Burch declined to serve on the committee, because his position and the county attorney are both elected positions.

In other business Tuesday:

Commissioners set special, closed county board meetings for Oct. 10 and 17 to conduct annual personnel evaluations with department heads and the administrator.

They approved an amended, re-worded personnel policy, which reduced the document from over 100 pages down to 80. It generally follows current practices the county has been using.

Cass County prepared its own annual audit document this year, which meant the state auditor's office visited the county only once rather than twice. They made no changes from the county's document, Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane said.

Cass has had a longstanding issue the state auditor's office cited annually, because it has been difficult to have a cross-checking system for smaller departments to ensure there would not be opportunity for someone to skim money from financial transactions.

Norikane said the county now has worked out a cross-check system that even works for smaller departments, so the state finally has removed it criticism of that issue.

She has been watching other counties' experiences with using private audit firms and will report back to the board next year on whether she will recommend Cass continue using the state auditor or advertise for a private auditor next year.


In 2016, the year audited this year, Cass received 46 percent of its revenue from property and other taxes, 29 percent from state and local grants, 12 percent from federal grants, six percent each from miscellaneous and fees/charges/other and 1 percent from investment income.

The county spent 28 percent of its money on highways/streets, 23 percent on human services, 22 percent on public safety, 15 percent on general government, 5 percent on sanitation, 3 percent on health and 4 percent on conservation of natural resources.

Only nine of the 36 people who have been paying into a ditch maintenance fund the last four years for improving Ditch 9 showed up for a meeting Sept. 13 to discuss whether to continue maintaining the ditch or to abandon it.

Some said the ditch cleaning done and beaver removal helped prevent basement flooding and opened more grazing land. Others said they did not benefit.

Tuesday the county board decided to circulate a petition to all 36 property owners to determine exactly how many want the county to continue maintaining the ditch and how many want it abandoned.

No work was done on the ditch for about 100 years until four years ago.

The commissioners approved a contract with Government Management Group of Lakeville to prepare the county's annual central services cost allocation plan from 2017 to 2021 for $5,100 per year.

The plan shows how the county allocates to departments the cost for such county services as payroll. It also tracks indirect costs the county incurs for grants and tracks federal recoveries to ensure the county receives all eligible recoveries.


Cass will receive a Minnesota Department of Public Safety $102,530 grant for a half-time coordinator and full-time probation officer assigned to the county's wellness (DWI) court. The grant runs through September 2018.

The commissioners canceled $546.98 worth of checks which the county had issued to claimants in 2016, but that were not cashed.

Approved out of state travel for Lt. Chris Thompson and Sgt. Rick Wolske to attend the TurnKey Corrections User Conference in Wisconsin later this month. There is no cost for the conference, but will be costs to the county for wages, lodging and travel.

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