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Lincoln County Commissioners hold May 23rd meeting

The Lincoln County Commission met Tuesday, May 23 in the Lincoln County Boardroom.

Auditor-in-Charge, Jeff Schaefer, discussed the audit for the fiscal year ending in 2021.

“The County has not completed a reconciliation of recorded cash and investments to financial institution balances since December 2020. This reconciliation process serves to verify the County’s deposits and withdrawals have been properly recorded at the County and is necessary to detect errors in the County’s accounting system or errors made by the financial institutions,” he said.

Schaefer also noted that monthly verification needs to be presented monthly.

“The County has not presented a monthly verification of the treasurer’s accounts to the Board of County Commissioners since January of 2021. SDCL 7-10-3 requires that a monthly verification of the treasurer’s accounts be reported to the board of county commissioners at each regular meeting. This monthly verification serves as a check and balance of the Treasurer’s Office by verifying all cash items and bank accounts in the possession or control of the Treasurer’s Office,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer recommends that the County complete the reconciliations and prepare monthly verification of treasurer’s accounts to the Board of Commissioners.

Civil Deputy State’s Attorney, Joe Meader joined the meeting to get Board action to approve the appointment of a Qualified Mental Health Professional.

“I’m here today asking for Board approval to hire a new qualified mental health professional that the Joint Board has hired essentially the long story short is this that increasing staff loads has caused issues for staffing and purposes on Thursdays and Fridays the individual that we have trying to evaluate individuals needs to also go to the VA and all these other places, so they’ve hired a new staff member to be available on Thursdays and Fridays and help alleviate that staffage issue,” he said. Motion approved.

Auditor, Sheri Lund presented a request from SDACO on prioritizing categories.

“SDACO is requesting commissioners to rank the priorities of the following categories: medical assistance for indigent persons, juror fees, elections, veteran service officers, criminal defense costs, court costs, cybersecurity costs, mental health holds,” she said.

Commissioner Jim Schmidt asked what the biggest expenditure on the list was.

“It would be criminal defense, which would include the jury fees,” Lund said.

Commissioner Joel Arends weighed in on his opinion on the matter.“We spend $1.2 million on criminal defense, we spend about, what is it, just a little more on prosecution, and a great amount of the people that wee prosecute comes form our population centers and yet we don’t have the ability to impose a sales tax to be able to take care of that. We don’t have city jails, we don’t have city courts, the county is responsible for taking care of all of it and I don’t see any help on the horizon and the only assistance I see coming is if the state wants to share in the burden of criminal defense costs that I guess we would accept any assistant from the state that we can get and it’s unfortunate that we can’t fix this thing for the future and instead we’re going to have to rely upon the legislature taking up criminal defense costs,” Arends said.

Arends is unsure of how that is going to work and has concerns.

“The thing I’m most worried about is that last year we had 360 DUI convictions, that is one DUI every day of the year and yet we don’t get a dime back to the county for when our Sheriff’s Department takes care of them. I did the math with the State’s Attorney’s office and it is substantial the amount of time we spend on that issue of DUI enforcement and 60 per ent of the activity in the criminal justice system is related to alcohol related offenses and another 20 percent is related to drug crime, so we need help from the state, we need some kind of reimbursement coming back to the county for these DUI enforcement costs, and I don’t care if that’s an extra $100 fine or fee that people need to pay when they plead guilty but we need that assistance and we need the help and support of out lawmakers to change the law to allow that money because right now that money goes to the school district, well that’s not helping enforcement costs, so I would encourage the association of counties to get on board with this law change and start taxing the hell out of people who want to drink and drive,” he said.

Many Lincoln County residents showed up to the meeting to show opposition on an election service agreement with Election Systems & Software LLC. The Commission gave each resident three minutes to state their opinions. After hearing each person, the Commission discussed their plans.

Commissioner Michael Poppens had a question for Auditor Lund.

“Are we getting any direction from the state that is getting any direction different from accepting these machines as legitimate?” he asked.

“No,” Lund responded.

“If we did delay, as requesting, what impact would that have in your timeline run elections,” Poppens asked.

“I don’t’ have an election this year,” Lund stated.

Commissioner Arends also had a question for the Auditor,

“Does the agreement with ES&S prevent us from releasing these cast vote records?”

“No,” Lund responded.

“Second question, does the CVR exist?” Arends asked.

“That’s not what we’re discussing today, we’re discussing whether or not we should sign this contract,” stated Commissioner Tiffani Landeen.

“Right, and so as a part of this contract, if the contract allows us to release CVR’s, is there a CVR to be released under this contract?” Arends asked.

“Have you read the contract that’s in your share drive? There is nothing in here about releasing information that I’ve seen,” Landeen said.

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out is what the auditors understanding of this is, because she runs the election, so I’m just trying to figure out is it her understanding that this can be real, the CVR can be released pursuant to this agreement, but here’s where my thinking is on this, we don’t have an election this year, we’ve got some state legislators from our county looking into this, we’ve got a little bit of time to do some due diligence here, I’m concerned that ES&S may assert that these CVR’s are proprietary information pursuant to this agreement, Dodge County Wisconsin posts their CVR’s online, they used to use ES&S as their provider, we’re thinking about renewing with ES&SS here today, transparency and accountability is important in elections, I think what I’m most concerned about is I can’t support an agreement if ES&S is not going to allow the posting of these CVR records,” Arends said.

The Commission agreed to table the motion until further research can be done.


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