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S.F. No. 675 - Appointment of County Offices (First Engrossment)
Author: Senator Sandra L. Pappas
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
Date: March 13, 2015


S.F. No. 675 amends general law to allow counties to appoint the county auditor, treasurer, recorder, or auditor-treasurer instead of holding elections for these offices.  The switch to appointing these offices may only be made under specified circumstances.

Sections 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 make conforming changes.

Section 4 provides the process and requirements for making an office appointed.  Subdivision 1 allows a county board to appoint the county auditor, treasurer, recorder, or auditor-treasurer. Under current law, these positions are elected.  A referendum is not required if the process in this section is followed.  The county board may only use the appointment authority if there is a vacancy in the office or if there is a signed contract between the board and the incumbent that provides that the incumbent will be appointed to the position at the same tenure, pay, and benefit level.

Subdivision 2 requires elected county officers to notify the county board in writing whether he or she will be filing for another term. The notice must be at least 104 days before the start of the filing period. If, at the start of the filing period, the current county officer will not file for office and the board has passed a resolution to appoint the office, affidavits of candidacy will not be accepted for that office and the office will not be placed on the ballot.

Subdivision 3 allows the county board to adopt a resolution to make county offices appointed. The duties of the office must be discharged by the county board acting through a department head.  This change does not diminish, prohibit, or avoid discharge of statutory duties.

Subdivision 4 provides that an incumbent appointed to the office must not be involuntarily demoted or discharged except for incompetency or misconduct.  Before demoting or discharging an incumbent, the board must notify the employee.  The employee may request a hearing before an arbitrator.  The arbitrator must determine, by a preponderance of the evidence, whether the grounds for discharge or demotion support the action. The arbitration hearing must be a closed meeting unless the employee requests the meeting to be open.  If the arbitrator rules not to demote or discharge, the board must pay all costs and fees.

Subdivision 5 requires that the person elected to the position be allowed to complete his or her term. The position does not become appointive until the incumbent completes his or her term or leaves the office for other reasons.

Subdivision 6 provides that before the county board adopts a resolution to appoint offices, the board must publish notice of the proposed resolution once each weeks for two weeks in the county’s official publication. At a regular meeting, there must be time for public comment before the resolution is adopted. The resolution must be approved by at least 80 percent of the members of the board. The resolution takes effect after 30 days, unless a later date is provided in the resolution.  A petition requesting a referendum may be filed within 30 days after the adoption of the resolution. The petition must be signed by at least ten percent of the registered voters in the county.  If the petition is sufficient, the resolution is rescinded.

Subdivision 7 prohibits the board from reverting to elected offices within three years after making the positions appointed. To revert to elected offices, the county board must provide notice and hold a hearing before adopting a resolution to revert.  The resolution to revert to elected offices must be approved by at least 60 percent of the members of the county board and is effective on August 1 following the adoption.  The question of whether to revert to elected offices must be placed on the general election if the position has been appointed for at least three years; a petition signed by ten percent of the registered voters in the county is submitted, and the petition is sufficient.  If a majority of voters vote in favor of reverting to electing the offices, elections for that office must be held at the next regular or special election.


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