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Letter: Pipestone County should keep an experienced auditor

In the Pipestone County Star dated Oct. 21, candidate statements were presented from two people running for Pipestone County Auditor: Auditor Joyce Steinhoff and challenger Susie Otto.

Susie Otto posed the question to voters, "How could she (Auditor Steinhoff) not know (about the closing of Ashton care center) being the financial officer of Pipestone County?" The simple answer is the decision to close Ashton rested with five people only, and their job title is Pipestone County Commissioner.

Auditor Steinhoff could not have known any more than you or I could have known prior to the county commissioners making the announcement when they did. Furthermore, when the hospital books are audited, PCMC brings in an outside firm specializing in hospital reimbursements to handle the audit due to the intricacies of modern, hospital financing. Any attempt to put blame on the auditor for something outside her control seems irresponsible and erroneous.

Susie Otto then goes on to state the auditor's office "is a voice of the people and that voice should not be given away to an appointed position that has no vested interest in Pipestone County." While I totally agree with this statement it is not Auditor Steinhoff's fault this voice has been turned over to County Administrator Hanson. This was strictly a Pipestone County commissioners' decision beginning in 2005 that continues today. Until Pipestone County has at least three commissioners who realize an administrator is not needed and are willing to return the "voice of the people" back to the auditor's office, it will not occur regardless of who the auditor is.

To make it seem like a new auditor will change this situation reflects a lack of-knowledge of the position. In addition, while the auditor knew of additional budget cuts to the senior citizen center and the Pipestone County Museum, she was no more able to restore those cuts than the dozens of seniors who have spoken to county board members the last few months -- only the county commissioners can restore those budget cuts.

If people want to find fault with the closing of Ashton or any other budget cuts for needed programs, or if people want commissioners willing to cut wasteful positions such as an unneeded administrator, the public should consider electing county commissioners more responsive to the desires of the public. Since only two potential new commissioners can be brought on during this election cycle, it would be prudent to retain an experienced county auditor.