Board of County Commissioners
Commissioners have the responsibility for running the administrative, budgetary and policymaking functions of the county as a whole. The other constitutional officers in each county elected to four-year terms are the county clerk and recorder, county assessor, county treasurer, county sheriff, county coroner and the county surveyor. Constitutionally and statutorily, they are independent from each other and from the county commissioners. Their powers and duties are prescribed by state statute. County commissioners have no direct authority over the other elected officials in the county except that commissioners do approve budgets for all the other elected officials’ departments. A high level of coordination among commissioners and these other elected officials is necessary both legally and practically for a county to operate effectively. All elected county officers must exercise judgment in the performance of their duties and functions, and the level of sophistication, background and training necessary to function effectively increases with each passing year.
Assessor, April Nielsen
The county assessor is responsible for valuing real and personal property, including mobile homes, residential and commercial properties and agricultural land for property tax purposes. The assessor determines the equitable value of property to ensure that each taxpayer pays only his or her fair share of the taxes. The assessor is required to send out a notice of valuation each year to property owners. This notice will reflect a value on property for ad valorem taxes payable to the county.
Clerk and Recorder, Sahari McCormick
By state constitution, the clerk and recorder is required to be the recorder of deeds and the clerk to the board of county commissioners. By tradition, the clerk and recorder is usually the primary administrative officer of most counties. By law, the clerk and recorder is responsible for carrying out certain state functions. The clerk is the agent of the state Department of Revenue and is charged with the responsibility of administering certain state laws relating to motor vehicles, certification of automobile titles, and motor vehicle registration. The clerk is responsible for administering all county-wide primary, general and special elections held in the county, and for registration of voters, publication of notice of elections, appointment of election judges, and printing and distribution of ballots. The clerk and recorder also issues marriage licenses, maintains records and books for the board of commissioners, collects a multitude of license fees and charges required by the state, maintains property ownership records, and furnishes deed abstracts upon request.
Coroner, Zane Laubhan
Candidates for the position of coroner are encouraged to possess knowledge and experience in the medical-legal investigation of death. The coroner may declare an individual dead if he finds the individual has sustained irreversible cessation of circulatory and respiratory function. A constitutional amendment, passed in 2002, requires that coroners receive minimum training upon their election to office. The coroner is the only county official empowered to arrest the county sheriff.
Sheriff, Kevin Armstrong
The county sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of the county, responsible for maintaining the peace and enforcing state criminal laws. The sheriff must attend court and is required to serve and execute processes, subpoenas, writs and orders as directed by the court. The sheriff operates the county jail, and must maintain and feed prisoners. The sheriff is also fire warden for prairie or forest fires in the county. Finally, the sheriff performs certain functions in connection with sales of real and personnel property to satisfy debt or tax liens.
Surveyor, Corey Diekman
The surveyor’s duties are relatively few and relate to settling boundary disputes when directed by a court or when requested by interested parties. They create survey markers and monuments and conduct surveys relating to toll roads and reservoirs.
Treasurer, Mary R. Lorenz
The treasurer of each county is responsible for the receipt, custody and disbursement of county funds. The treasurer serves as the public trustee, except in Class 1 and Class 2 counties where the public trustee is appointed. The treasurer collects some state taxes and all property taxes, including those for other units of local government. The treasurer collects and disburses school funds belonging to school districts located within the county. The treasurer sends notices of and collects all property taxes for all local governments and disburses receipts for each after charging a statutory collection fee. The treasurer conducts sales of property for delinquent taxes.