County Board plans to discuss moving recorder to appointed position

Moving the Beltrami County recorder's position from elective to appointed will be discussed Tuesday by county commissioners. With the retirement last year of County Recorder Ann Allen, who held the post through six terms starting in 1983, commiss...

Moving the Beltrami County recorder's position from elective to appointed will be discussed Tuesday by county commissioners.

With the retirement last year of County Recorder Ann Allen, who held the post through six terms starting in 1983, commissioners talked about making the position appointed through the County Board.

Charlene Sturk, who won the post in the Nov. 7 election, campaigned that because of the technical nature of the job, it should be appointive and didn't oppose commissioners headed in that direction.

The discussion is part of the commissioners' regular agenda when they meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave. Also on the regular agenda is a resolution to Congress opposing a new federal rule interpretation that makes counties 100 percent responsible for the medical costs of people held in county jail.

With several other counties in recent years also making county recorder positions appointed, County Attorney Tim Faver modeled a resolution for Beltrami County, asking the state Legislature to have statutory authority to do so.


Bills allowing for county office consolidation or appointed offices have been entered by Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, and Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, co-authored by Rep. Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji.

Legislation the county seeks would allow the county to make the county recorder post appointed if a resolution is approved by at least four of the five board members, that prior notice of the action is published at least two weeks before and that public comment be allowed at a session before the vote.

To make the post appointed doesn't require a public referendum vote, but the legislation would provide for a so-called "reverse referendum" if within 30 days after the second publication of the resolution, a petition requesting a referendum is received, signed by at least 10 percent of the registered voters in the county.

Under the legislation, Sturk would be allowed to complete her elected term before the board appoints her or a successor.

Commissioners during their regular session will also consider a "loss of federal entitlement benefits" resolution, asking Congress to allow federal financial participation for medical benefits to incarcerated people until convicted and sentenced to secure detention.

"Individuals who are eligible for either Medicare or Medicaid benefits lose their eligibility immediately when apprehended," County Administrator Tony Murphy said in a memo. "The cost of medical care for inmates is a county responsibility upon arrest and detention. As we know, the county cost for inmate medical care that would otherwise be covered by Medicare or Medicaid is significant."

Murphy argues that people eligible for either program prior to arrest and detention should continue their eligibility until convicted and actually become a ward of the county or state.

The problem stems from a strict enforcement of a little-known federal rule that cuts off federal medical benefits from anyone in jail. But it recently has been extended to people at arrest, even if they are released and not charged, or charged and later acquitted. Counties assume the full cost, and restoring federal benefits may take up to three months after their release.


Commissioners open their day with a 3 p.m. work session, but will spend the first hour touring the new County Judicial Center under construction and renovations at the historic Courthouse.

At 4 p.m., the board begins its work session in the County Administration Building with a discussion of a state review of the Beltrami County Child and Family Service system.

The state report shows Beltrami County met five out of six national standards in the areas of recurrence of maltreatment, incidence of child abuse/neglect in foster care, foster care re-entries, stability of foster care placements and length of time to achieve modification.

In areas where the county wasn't in substantial conformity, included was timeliness of initiating investigations of reports of child maltreatment.

The report, done by the state Department of Human Services, states that "the themes that emerged throughout the review are the need for increased contact with fathers for the purpose of gaining stronger paternal involvement and the need for further collaboration with tribal social services as a large number of the cases we are involved with involve native American children."

Commissioners will also consider a Safe Havens grant for several agencies to offer a safe and neutral area for supervised visitation and exchange by non-custodial parents with their children.

County Sheriff Phil Hodapp will meet with commissioners to talk about service calls in the northern part of the county and the status of a northern deputy, plus give an update of the county's automated pawn shop ordinance which was approved early last year but only took effect Jan. 21.

Consent agenda items during the board's regular meeting include county bills and warrant payment listing, support for a grant to establish a wild rice advisory council through Giziibii Resource, Conservation and Development, approval of a group residential housing agreement for a Red Lake housing shelter and of a service agreement with MeritCare Medical Group to provide wellness services to county employees.


Also, commissioners will be asked to approve a 2007 contract with the Beltrami Soil and Water Conservation District, bids for office furniture at the historic Courthouse, a resolution establishing a two-hour parking limit for customers in county lots, and an office lease for the state Department of Corrections in the renovated Courthouse's second floor.

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