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Tangen gets auditor's job

The resignation of Becker County Auditor Keith Brekken came earlier than expected.

Brekken will retire effective today. The longtime auditor announced earlier that he would not seek reelection because he planned to retire this year.

The County Board accepted Brekken's resignation last Tuesday and thanked him for his service to the county.

"Everything just sort of fell into place," for a May 31 retirement, he told commissioners.

The auditor's office has the benefit of experienced personnel and new state-of-the-art election equipment, so the interim auditor should be able to oversee the November election without too much difficulty, Brekken said.

"My staff is very capable -- they know what they're doing," he said.

After a lengthy discussion, the board appointed County Treasurer Ryan Tangen to fill out Brekken's term, which expires at the end of this year.

The board earlier agreed to consolidate the positions of county auditor and treasurer, and appointing Tangen to the post will give him added months of experience if he is elected auditor-treasurer in November, said Commissioner Harry Salminen.

County Administrator Brian Berg urged the board to appoint Tangen.

"The board took decisive action earlier this year to combine the auditor and treasurer," he said. "Even if you put that aside, he (Tangen) is on the finance committee, he knows the finances of the county, he works next door to the auditor's office and the two departments have shared employees at times -- I would like to see Ryan Tangen appointed so we can move forward. We have another budget on the horizon."

An elected official is allowed by law to fill out the terms of another elected official, Berg added.

The two departments won't be consolidated until after the election, but Tangen will head them both until then.

The board unanimously agreed to make Tangen county auditor.

Commissioners raised his salary from $61,000 a year to $65,000 a year, which is what Brekken makes, and added another $250 a month for being responsible for both departments.

"To me, $250 a month over the current auditor's salary is a very modest amount," Berg said. With the benefits package factored in, the county will actually be paying less, he added.

"Thank you for the opportunity and thank you for the confidence you have in me," said Tangen, who shook hands with commissioners after the vote.

Tangen will take the Auditor's Oath of Office at 9 a.m. Friday in the upstairs courtroom at the Becker County Courthouse.