The Barnes County Commission began forming a hiring committee that will review the applications for the vacant seat of county auditor and has set an Oct. 15 deadline for applicants to serve as the fifth member of the Barnes County Water Resource District Board.
County State’s Attorney Lee Grossman said at Tuesday’s commission meeting, he has received eight applications for the auditor position.
Grossman, a committee member, will join County Commissioners Eldred Knutson and committee chairman Phil Leitner in weeding through the potential auditors and recommending a few candidates to the full commission. County Tax Director Betty Koslovski was also named as a possible committee member.
Commissioner Leitner also serves as the County Auditor’s Office portfolio holder, and said the committee will review applications prior to the commission’s next meeting on Oct. 16.
“The committee will meet and look over the applications and decide the next steps,” Leitner said. “Maybe not have firm timeline, but we’ll have a general timeline and go from there. We’ll report on the 16th and let you know where we’re at.”
For the water board, only Ken Evenson has officially thrown his hat in the ring to be added to the board by the county commission. Evenson is a former Valley City City Commissioner seeking to replace former water board member Duane Lettenmaier. Lettenmaier was removed from the board by the commission for using water board funds for a project that benefited him as a private land owner.
Commissioner Rodger Berntson said the commission should have put a deadline on the application period earlier.
“We just opened up for applicants without any date, which I feel was a mistake,” Berntson said. “No disrespect to Ken, but just because he’s the first one to apply I don’t think we can say ‘fine, we got one.’”
The water board usually meets on the second Monday of the month, but will not meet for October due to harvest season.
The commission will appoint the new board member on Oct. 16 at the same meeting the auditor committee will give its report.
Former County Auditor Ed McGough sent a letter of resignation in July and served his last formal day in office on Aug. 8, although he has helped out the office on a few occasions. After 26 years as auditor, McGough told the Times-Record health problems were keeping him from fulfilling the duties of the office.
County auditor is an elected position, but the commission felt there was not enough time for candidates to get enough signatures to get on the ballot. Grossman said the position was clearly advertised as a two-year position with the possibility of re-election.
Commissioner Cindy Schwehr said the county auditor is the “go-to person” for the county.
“Yes, we work with the auditor, but some of our department heads work with him every single day,” Schwehr said. “It’s an important office here. They’re all important, but that seems to be the one that the public goes to the most. It’s kind of the hub for the county.”