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Jackson County Auditor opts for early retirement

WORTHINGTON -- Jackson County Auditor/treasurer Ben Pribyl, who was under investigation for malfeasance and nonfeasance, this week opted for an early retirement effective March 31.

The investigation into Pribyl's performance has been halted and all legal action has been dropped.

Pribyl had been in negotiations with the county's personnel committee for an early retirement package for about two weeks before the final decision was made.

"We wish Ben well and thank him for his years of service to the county," said Loren Tusa, chairman of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners.

The board will continue to pursue changing the auditor's position to an appointed one rather than an elected office due to its technical requirements.

Pribyl's retirement opened the way for the county board to eliminate a position and regain the services of Farley Grunig, the former Jackson County assessor who had accepted a position as assessor in Scott County.

Grunig will again be Jackson County assessor, but he will also be given additional responsibilities as the county's new Director of Property Valuation and Tax.

"He's going to have a role in the entire tax process from start to finish," said County Coordinator Jan Fransen. "He's going to have a more functional role... it'll be more of a team effort between the auditor's office and the assessor's office."

Grunig had been performing the duties of the assessor on an interim basis until a new assessor could be found but will now resume his duties as Jackson County assessor full-time.

Kevin Nordquist, the county's former chief deputy auditor, will serve out Pribyl's term as auditor until Dec. 31, 2010.

The restructuring will save Jackson County roughly $115,000 by the end of 2013, said County Coordinator Jan Fransen.