By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
A resolution supporting legislation that would allow counties to remove public notices from newspapers and place them only on county websites was approved by the Morrison County Board, Tuesday.
“This resolution came from the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC), our lobbying group,” said County Administrator Deb Gruber. “It’s been on the platform for a number of years.”
“This really comes into play for counties which have a number of publications serving their constituency,” Gruber said. “We are fortunate enough to have one newspaper that covers our entire area.”
County Auditor/Treasurer Russ Nygren cited Todd County as an example. “There are multiple papers serving that area,” he said. “They have a dilemma of which paper to award the bid to and what the coverage area is.”
“This gives us flexibility to exercise other options for the county,” said Commissioner Kevin Maurer. “It’s a lot of money to publish notices, $22,000.”
Commissioner Jeff Jelinski asked if there were a way for individuals without Internet access to get the information.
“We want to find a way to notify the public that information is available,” Gruber said. “We’re not trying to limit access to information but want to find the best way to make it available. We want it to be more readable, more understandable and more user-friendly.”
Commenting on the resolution, Morrison County Record General Manager Tom West said, “The newspaper industry strongly opposes this proposed legislation. Our surveys show that 85 percent of the people of this county read the Record on a regular basis. Taking public notices out of newspapers and placing them on rarely visited government Websites is a step toward secrecy, not toward a more transparent government.”