Interim Auditor Appointed

Barnes County Deputy Auditor Julie Mindt was selected Tuesday by the Barnes County Commission to temporarily fill the role of resigning County Auditor Ed McGough. McGough officially vacated his seat on Wednesday.

The former auditor missed most of 2011 due to ongoing health problems, which he cited as his reason for leaving now.

Mindt said she doesn’t know how long she’ll be interim auditor.
“I’m hoping for a lot of support,” she said Thursday.

Last year, with the auditor’s office short staffed, Steele County Commissioner Linda Leadbetter lent a hand as Barnes prepared its budget for the coming year, and the office has been in touch with Leadbetter recently. McGough told the Times-Record last week that county auditors in the state are like a family and constantly help each other out. An additional administrative assistant was also recently hired in the auditor’s office.

The county will try within 60 days to appoint a full-time auditor to fill McGough’s term, which expires in 2014, but State’s Attorney Lee Grossman said he expects the position to be filled sooner.

When the county does finally appoint a full-time auditor, that official will not have the same status as an elected auditor until an election takes place.

“That was one my concerns: If we hire or appoint someone who’ll come in and say ‘I’m cleaning house, firing everybody and starting over,’” said Commissioner Rodger Berntson. “That, they can’t do, we would have control over that person as a hired employee for the duration of the existing term.”

Grossman advised the commissioners to treat the office of the appointed auditor as much like an elected auditor’s office as much as possible.
“You’ll have essentially two years where you treat it as an appointed position then all of that’s done when it goes back to being an elected position and they have all of the rights and duties that an elected person has over their office. The auditor’s office is not going to be an appointed position from here on out, it’s just for those two years. To keep every thing flowing in a straight path, my suggestion would be to treat the office as if it’s run by an elected official... But the commission could clean house in there if they felt it was necessary.”
The commission had the option of putting the position on the general election ballot in November, but would have had to do so by Sept. 6, 60 days before the election.

“I know we have an element of people that take an awful lot of pride in their right to vote; they’re the ones who’ll want to see this on the ballot,” Berntson said. “We had been looking at it, but we’re short on time.”

To put the position on the ballot, the candidates would have had to qualify to run for office with the required amount of signatures.
An elected term would have lasted four years, but the appointed position expires in 2014.