County begins contemplating broad legislative/budgetary issues

By Derrick Knutson

The Chisago County Board of Commissioners began discussing some overarching legislative/budgetary issues that could potentially affect the county in upcoming years at its meeting July 5.

Three topics – that were essentially just talking points because no research on the issues has been conducted yet – were brought to the board by county staff.

Any changes in the county in regard to the topics discussed likely wouldn’t be implemented until 2014.

First, County Administrator Bruce Messelt asked the board to consider its current stance of prosecuting crimes in relation to municipal law offenses free of charge.

Currently, the county prosecutes all misdemeanors for the cities within the county for free and that wouldn’t change, but potentially the county could ask for compensation from cities when it comes to the aforementioned prosecution of municipal code violations.

County commissioner Ben Montzka prompted staff to conduct an ample amount of research before making any recommendations on the issue.

“The issue of who is going to pay for our prosecution is going to be a budget item and I think we should not make any recommendation on that yet because there will be a budget implication,” he said.

The board then mulled over the positions of auditor and treasurer/recorder.

Presently, both positions are elected posts, but the board could decide at some point to fill them by appointment.

Messelt said that potential action could be subject to reverse referendum, which means if enough residents in the county objected to the appointments and got a petition together with a minimum number of threshold of signatures, the decision by the board could be reversed via a countywide referendum.

The third item, brought forth by Commissioner Mike Robinson, dealt with the 30-day residency requirement for candidates seeking county offices.

Robinson said he’d like the board to consider requiring candidates to live in the district they’re running in 30 days prior to a primary, not a general election.

The board also came to the consensus that the topic of unfunded mandates should be seriously researched in the not-too-distant future.

Another matter the board said it would like to look into is reassigning the county from the Emergency Medical Services Regulatory Board Central Region to the EMSRB Metro Region.

Making the change would bring Chisago County more in-line with metro emergency medical services practices.

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