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Commission votes to switch auditing firms

By Anna Jauhola

The commission voted to switch auditing firms and hire BradyMartz for the next three years, pending confirmation the county can break its contract with Hoffman, Philipp & Knutson, PLLC. The county had troubles with its 2015 audit after the state auditor’s office found discrepancies.

In her last visit to the board, Colleen Hoffman assured them the county could choose another auditor.

“They said they had no problem in letting us out of the contract if you’re uncomfortable with them,” said Eric Christensen, county administrator. “I’m relatively comfortable, but not 100 percent. If the board wants to change course or direction, this would be the time to do it.”

The reaudit from the 2015 audit costed the county $71,000, he added. Hoffman, Philipp & Knutson has barely started on the 2018 audit, so it wouldn’t be a big interruption to switch.

The commissioners agreed the change to a different firm would be good, considering the county has used Hoffman’s services for a couple of decades. Commissioner Corey Wikstrom made the motion to switch, noting that he isn’t against going back to Hoffman’s firm after a three-year contract with BradyMartz.

“But we should make sure Colleen knows where the board is coming from,” said Commissioner Theresia Gillie. “And get a written agreement to get out of the contract so there is no breach of contract.”

Christensen said he would contact all involved and have more information for the Tuesday, June 18 meeting. Surprise Retirement With surprise and regret, the Kittson County Commissioners accepted the retirement of long-time auditor, Marian Paulson during the Tuesday, June 4 meeting.

“I came here today with an FMLA request for Marian Paulson. Instead, I’m bringing her retirement letter,” Christensen said. In May, Paulson asked for family medical leave (FMLA) due to illness, but that illness has taken more of a toll than expected and she chose retirement instead. Paulson has been working for the county for 46 years, Christensen said.

“The health issue has become too much for her,” he said. “We knew it was likely coming this year. When I started, her game plan was she was going to retire after her office got new software. That’s still not in place.”

Christensen asked to advertise for Paulson’s replacement, which the commission approved. He told the commissioners he met with the assessor’s office staff on Monday, June 3 to discuss Paulson’s retirement and see if any of them were interested in applying.

“I asked if anyone is working toward becoming county assessor,” Christensen said. “Tim (Swenson) by far is the closest. He’s thinking it over.”

In other business, the commission:

• Approved a bid by Thygeson Construction at $168,239.35 for the county-wide regravel project this summer. That is under the project budget by $19,760.65.

• Approved a bid by AAA Striping, of St. Michael, Minn., at $54,727 for a county-wide restriping project.

• Approved hiring two extra seasonal workers for the highway department in Tristian Comstock and Parker Bayne. Each will receive $11 per hour. All summer help started on Monday, June 3, including some training.

• Approved adding Mike Docken to the list of part-time temporary deputies hired by the county on May 28 to help fill empty shifts while two full-time deputies are out on leave.

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