Aitkin, Mille Lacs counties to share one assessor

Mille Lacs County has approved a six-month contract to have the Aitkin County assessor work part-time as the Mille Lacs County assessor.

Mille Lacs commissioners began discussing the idea about a year ago when then Mille Lacs County Assessor Pat Stotz informed them she would be retiring in early June of this year. When the Mille Lacs commissioners met in their regular business meeting June 3, the board was ready to make the move. The board approved a contract titled Shared County Assessor Services.

The contract requires Mille Lacs County to pay Aitkin County just over $2,395 per month, using a rate of just over $34 per hour multiplied by 70 hours per month, for 16 hours of service per week. All 16 hours per week shall be on-site in Mille Lacs County.

The Aitkin County Assessor Mike Dangers is to use his own vehicle when providing the services in Mille Lacs County and is to be reimbursed by Mille Lacs for the mileage at a rate of 46 cents per mile.

The agreement states that the Aitkin County assessor will be providing 30 hours per week of on-site time and 10 hours per week off-site time in Atikin County. Mille Lacs will be required to provide a work site location, equipment and staff for the assessor.

The Mille Lacs County assessor’s office has three appraisers plus one clerical worker at 99 percent of full time, and a clerical worker who spends a small fraction of time each year updating the list of relative homestead properties.

The Aitkin County’s assessor’s office, besides having the department head assessor, has an assistant county assessor, one commercial appraiser, two senior appraisers, three other appraisers, a homestead clerk and one clerical person.  Mille Lacs Board Chairman Phil Peterson said after the June 3 meeting that the idea of sharing an assessor is to save money and be more efficient. The commissioners can then see how it might work out to possibly consider doing it long-term, Peterson said.

“I know (just-retired Mille Lacs County Assessor) Pat (Stotz) was busy,” Peterson added. “But there’s nothing wrong with trying something new. Like I said at the meeting, the private sector is trying new things all the time.”

Mille Lacs County Commissioner Tim Wilhelm said that from talking with commissioners at a 19-county regional Central Minnesota Jobs Task Force meeting, he learned that Kandiyohi and Renville counties have some shared services.

Wilhelm said the idea of sharing Aitkin’s County assessor was helped by Mille Lacs County Administrator Roxy Traxler’s working relationship with Aitkin County. Traxler is nearing the end of a four- to five-month contract as the interim administrator for Aitkin County. The arrangement has Aitkin County paying Mille Lacs County for Traxler providing part-time services to Aitkin. Traxler at the same time has continued her administrator job for Mille Lacs County.