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Update: Commissioners accept resignation from county auditor/treasurer

MORRIS – The Stevens County Board of Commissioners accepted the resignation of Auditor/Treasurer Neil Wiese at a special meeting on Friday morning.

Wiese’s last official day with Stevens County will be Aug. 8. In his resignation letter, Wiese said he will be on vacation the last two weeks of his employment, from July 28 through Aug. 8.

At the special meeting, which Wiese did not attend, Commissioner Ron Staples asked County Attorney Aaron Jordan to look into whether the county should pay Wiese during his two-week vacation.

According to the Stevens County Employee Handbook, other than those retiring, individuals are not allowed to use vacation time after a resignation has been submitted without department head approval. Elected officials in the county also do not accrue vacation time throughout the year, Staples pointed out.

The biggest hurdle for the county will be staffing and certifying the Aug. 12 primary election. The county needs an auditor to certify the results and answer questions about the election, Jordan said.

“It’s just like being auditor/treasurer – it can be anybody, there are no requirements,” said Staples.

The board decided to advertise for an auditor/treasurer online until July 31 and make a decision at their regular Aug. 5 board meeting.

In an interview on Tuesday, Wiese said he decided to resign because of conflict with some members of the board of commissioners.

“Obviously there’s been friction for some time and I just decided that enough is enough. I’m not going to put up with their BS anymore,” said Wiese. “The tipping point was when they voted to have me clerk the board and there was somebody much better qualified to clerk the board than I was, had done it before, and they didn’t have them do it – well now they are.”

According to state statute, in the absence of a county coordinator – a position vacant in Stevens County following the resignation of Engineer/Coordinator Brian Giese – that responsibility reverts to the auditor unless the board appoints someone else.

After Giese resigned, the board voted to have Wiese serve as clerk of the board and facilitate development of the 2015 county budget.

On Friday, Stephanie Buss, the Stevens County Highway Department accountant, volunteered to oversee the 2015 budget process. Buss has worked with Giese on developing the budget since he was promoted to coordinator.

Wiese also criticized the board for not offering him a stipend for working as clerk of the board.

“They had a chance to offer me one, but they wanted to pay me later without numbers given,” said Wiese. “That was kind of the final straw. I thought ‘No, I’m not doing that, because you’re already underpaying me as auditor/treasurer in my opinion.’”

Wiese’s name will remain on the ballot for the auditor/treasurer election in November. He is the only candidate who filed to run in that race, which Wiese said makes it likely he will win.

Wiese said he would look at the results of other county races, specifically the contest between Commissioner Phil Gausman and challenger Laurie Vavra, before deciding whether he would accept the position.

“It’s extremely unlikely that I would lose the election at this point,” said Wiese. “If Laurie would happen to win, I would take a look at accepting it, but I would discuss it with the then-board and see what we wanted to do.”