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home : cass county news : cass county news May 26, 2017

5/7/2017 9:46:00 AM
Cass Auditor-treasurer presents annual report to Board
MONICA LUNDQUIST
Cass County Correspondent

WALKER-More people do business with Cass County electronically today than in the past, but the Auditor-Treasurer office saw an uptick in telephone calls during the election year in 2016.

Auditor-Treasurer Sharon Anderson presented her annual report to the county board Tuesday.

Phone calls were the highest in 2016 of the last five years at 11,470.

Outgoing paper mail dropped annually from 225,499 pieces in 2012 to 127,276 last year.

Ten people paid fees electronically to the county recorder in 2016. Electronic fees paid to probation have increased from 25 in 2013 to 50 in 2016. Environmental services has seen an increase in electronic fees from 37 in 2012 to 110 in 2015, but a slight decline in 2016 to 95. Electronic recording for mortgage taxes and property deed taxes have shifted significantly from zero in 2007 to nearly half the mortgage tax transactions and about a third of deed tax transactions in 2016.

People paying electronically nearly doubled in number and amount paid for property taxes with 1,081 paying $1,192,463 in 2012 and 2,085 paying $1,996,520 in 2016.

Business licenses the auditor-treasurer issues have generally declined the last 10 years. Most notably, cigarette licenses dropped from 56 in 2007 to 41 in 2016, and liquor licenses dropped from 53 in 2007 to 47 in 2016. There were five auctioneers licensed in 2007, but only one in 2016. Beer licenses at 32 were only two less than 2007.

The office also issues licenses to precious metals dealers (none in 2016), for mass gatherings (two in 2016) and fireworks (five in 2016).

The office issues notary commissions, which have risen and fallen the last 10 years, ranging from 184 in 2010 to 43 in 2013. There were 53 in 2016.

Death certificates were highest in 2007 at 1,410, lowest in 2013 at 932 and recorded at 1,380 in 2016. Birth certificates were highest in 2007 at 666, lowest at 280 in 2013 and falling mid- range in 2016 at 369.

People requested 76 certified copies of marriage certificates in 2016, also falling mid-way between the peak 100 in 2012 and lowest number of 54 in 2015. The auditor-treasurer office issued 69 new marriage licenses in 2016. Those ranged from a 2007 high of 81 to a 2008 low of 55.

After a 2016 retirement, the person hired as the new payroll and benefits employee in the auditor-treasurer office has assumed additional human resource duties. Another new employee has been cross-trained to serve as backup to the payroll and benefits employee.

Cass County has chosen to continue using the state auditor for the county's annual audit, but Anderson said she is watching the court challenge to a legislative option to allow counties to hire private auditors. Cass's cost for the annual state audit was up 12.5 percent in 2016, she said.

The auditor-treasurer pays most bills the county owes electronically and electronically deposits incoming checks.

Cass County had $46.2 million in cash and investments at the end of 2007 and $74.1 million at the end of 2016.

Of that 74.1 million, $17,367,413 was in certificates of deposit, $5,000,000 was in Federal Farm Credit Bank, $10,125,000 was in Federal Home Loan Bank, $16,453,344 was in Freddie Mac, $11,103,875 was in Fannie Mae, $1,827,554 was in a money market, $2,654,553 was in revenue bonds, $1,500,000 was in a repurchase agreement, $8,613,845 was in a savings account and the checking showed a $530,952 deficit.

Even in the most recent recession, more than 97 percent of Cass County property tax payers paid their taxes in the year they were due. In 2016, the delinquency rate was 1.58 percent.

While 745 parcels were in the published list of delinquent parcels in 2016, only a small fraction of those actually went unpaid later in the year. Sixty-one people signed confession of judgment contracts to pay up their delinquent taxes over a set time period.

In 2016, only 13 reached final tax forfeiture.

The auditor-treasurer office oversees elections. For the 2016 general election, 79.9 percent of Cass County's registered voters voted, which is consistent with Cass voter turnout for presidential elections in recent years.

The state, however, measures percent of eligible, not registered voters. That turnout number was only 72.9 percent in 2016.

Second publication rights after Brainerd Dispatch.





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