New law allows Morrison and five others to appoint recorder

If someone needs a copy of a birth certificate, death certificate, a death or marriage record, a marriage license, military discharges, notary commissions, a passport or a deed, mortgage or real estate document, they will likely head to the county recorder’s office.

The county recorder, which is a position held by Eileen Holtberg in Morrison County, is an elected position. At least it will be unless the County Board passes a resolution allowing it to be appointed, which is possible under a new bill passed in the Legislature. Five other counties were included in that piece of legislation as well, including Benton, Pine, Stearns, Marshall and Rice.

County Administrator Deb Gruber said a request for the bill was not initiated by Morrison County.

“Rep. Kresha introduced the bill without a request from anyone here,” she said.

Before it could go into effect, however, the County Board needs to pass the measure by resolution. Whether that will happen is not clear.

“I don’t know if or when it will be discussed at the county level but if it ever is, my recommendation would be that it is an effort undertaken with the County Board and incumbent recorder’s consent,” Gruber said.

Kresha said since county commissioners are closest to their constituents, they are in a better position to decide on that position.

Gruber said her personal opinion is that solid reasons exist for the positions of the recorder and auditor/treasurer to be appointed in county government.

“Advantages exist for both the office holder and the citizens, as there is very little discretion present for both positions and it is imperative to have qualified individuals serving,” she said.

Currently, over half of the counties in the state have sought authorization or already appoint one or both of these positions, Gruber said.

“That number is bound to continue to increase,” she said.

However, after having said that, Gruber noted both positions can work just fine when the people who hold them are elected.

“I also know the positions can work fine when elected.  I was both an appointed and elected treasurer for Morrison County.  Eileen Holtberg has served as both an appointed and elected recorder,” she said.

Holtberg was appointed to fill a term vacancy due to the retirement of her predecessor, Gruber said. She was then elected during the last election, where she ran unopposed.

“Eileen does an excellent job in her position.  I’d recommend to hire her if the position was appointed and she is whom I hope is elected if the office is on the ballot,” Gruber said.