County board votes to hire interim administrator

·3 min read

Jun. 21—The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday voted to hire a retired Jackson County coordinator as the county's new interim administrator.

Jan Fransen, who now works as a contracted interim administrator or coordinator for counties, will lead the county until a new permanent administrator is hired.

Details of the contract were not immediately available.

Fransen indicated during the meeting she was still working to have her insurance in place and anticipated that happening in the near future. Once that is in place, the contract will then be signed by Board Chairman Chris Shoff.

Freeborn County Attorney David Walker said he reviewed the contract and noted that a few changes were made from the initial proposal.

The contract states the board may terminate Fransen upon breach of contract or with a two-week notice once a permanent administrator is hired.

Fifth District Administrator Ted Herman asked why the board didn't want to advertise the position and receive other candidates for the interim position, some of whom may be interested in a permanent position, as well.

The board chairman said in the last few instances when the county needed an interim administrator, former Recorder Kelly Callahan stepped in as that position.

Because he is no longer working for the county, he could no longer step into that role.

Shoff said Fransen was recommended by the Association of Minnesota Counties and David Drown Associates.

Fransen, who will work as an independent contractor, said after the meeting she hoped to start yet this week.

Fransen retired as coordinator in Jackson County in 2015 after working almost 18 years and has since done interim work and consulting. She also has worked in some state positions and at one time worked in another position in Freeborn County.

She steps in to fill the void after the resignation of former Administrator Tom Jensen.

In other action, the board:

—Approved the terms of the bond sale for upgrades and repairs to the county's buildings.

Freeborn County Financial Manager Pat Paquin said the sale will be for more than $9 million and less than $10 million in bonds. The interest rate will not exceed 5%. Paquin said the current rate is about 4.12%.

The bonds will be for a 20-year term, the same life of the energy savings expected to come with the upgrades, with the county paying about $670,000 annually.

The bond coming off for the new courthouse is about $2.1 million annually.

The vote passed 4-1 with 2nd District Commissioner Dan Belshan voting against.

—Heard a presentation from Doug Host with CLA about the county's 2021 audit.

Host said the county had a low end of debt per capita compared to other counties and said the county was "very stable" financially.

Host said the county was down $4.7 million in revenues from 2020 to 2021, and the county had a $1.5 million decrease in expenditures. He said it was the second year in a row for revenues to exceed expenditures.

He noted the county has roughly shy of eight months worth of expenditures in its unrestricted fund balance.

—Heard an update read by Shoff about a closed session at the previous meeting for an evaluation of Human Resources Director Candace Pesch. Shoff said the board was generally satisfied with Pesch's performance but recommended a few areas of improvement.

—Approved Kim Waller as temporary board clerk.

—Approved filling an office eligibility worker position.