Legislative request: Ability to fill a gap

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Washington County

When Washington County Commissioner-elect Stan Karwoski is sworn in next month, it will fill the District 2 seat that was vacant for at least eight months.

That's too long, District 5 Commissioner Lisa Weik said.

Should a district seat suddenly become vacant again — and the remainder of the term is a year or more — the Washington County Board of Commissioners wants the option to appoint an interim commissioner.

The death of Commissioner Ted Bearth in March left residents of District 2 without representation, Weik said.

As required by state law, the board passed a resolution for a special election to fill the District 2 seat, which includes a section of northwest Woodbury.

But that meant waiting for the state primary in August and November's general election, since the cost of an off-calendar special election would have been prohibitive.

"Nearly 50,000 people in commissioner District 2 had no direct voice for county policy under discussion," Weik said.

At a Nov. 5 legislative committee workshop, the board discussed requesting an amendment to state law that would allow them to appoint an interim commissioner for a maximum of 10 months.

The board is likely to vote on the matter before year's end, Weik said.

At a separate workshop, the board reviewed the final recommended 2017 budget prior to the Dec. 6 public hearing.

The preliminary budget includes a proposed property tax increase of about 0.8 percent, which means that the owner of a median valued home costing $243,200 would pay about $6 more.