BACKUS - Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson will step away from her current multi-assignment duties in that office to use her over 30 years of experience to become the county's new election administrator.
Cass County was one of the last counties to report election results to the state during the last election cycle. The county board was not happy.
"Our board likes to be first in everything," Administrator Joshua Stevenson said in an interview following Tuesday's meeting.
The county board wants to give Anderson more time without distractions from other duties to be able to focus improving Cass' election process and reporting, he said.
She will have at least one assistant from current, experienced staff to help her make the improvements, she said in a separate interview.
Stevenson said he expects the board to take action in December to appoint Chief Financial Officer Sandra Norikane, who has private sector audit experience, to become the new auditor-treasurer, overseeing other duties of that office beyond elections.
As the new elections administrator, Anderson will begin by carrying out the board's vote Tuesday to apply to Minnesota Secretary of State's office for a state grant. If approved, that grant would pay about half the estimated $500,000 cost for the county to buy all new election equipment in 2018.
Cass' current equipment is mostly about 12 years old, Anderson said at Tuesday's board meeting.
State grants do not pay for software, Anderson said. That would be a separate county cost.
The county has budgeted for the entire $500,000, so could still buy new equipment next year if the grant application fails. If it succeeds, Anderson recommended the board set any excess budgeted election equipment money toward the next update to equipment in 10 to 15 years.
She said the county should be setting aside money in each year's budget toward the next cycle purchase.
She also recommended the county lobby for an ongoing state/federal match for election equipment purchases, because 66 percent of the offices on the county election ballot are for state and federal offices.
In her new role, Anderson will have more time available to increase training for school district, township and city officials on the election process.
She also will be asked to find a site on existing county property to build or remodel space to house the county's new election equipment.
The county board has a policy prohibiting rental of spaces for county functions and services, but Anderson has been renting space from a private property owner in Hackensack for several years to store existing election equipment.
That has cost about $13,000 per year, Stevenson said.
Anderson was first elected auditor 31 years ago and was elected auditor-treasurer in 1994 when the two offices were combined. The position became an appointed office in 2005.
In other auditor-treasurer business Tuesday, Anderson obtained board authorization to permit the state of Minnesota to purchase a formerly tax-forfeited property in Barclay Township.
Two residential lots had forfeited. The state applied for and received a cancellation of that forfeiture and will purchase the properties for $3,442.07 (the outstanding taxes, penalties and interest).
The state has a Medicaid lien against the property for services performed for the former owners.
The state likely will sell the property, with the sale money used to cover the state costs to purchase and to satisfy the lien, Anderson said.
Chief Deputy Treasurer/Investment Officer Karen Flier reported the county received 78 percent of expected interest income on investments through October this year, $733,870.45.
That is down from the $871,516.19 received through October 2016.