Longtime Carlton County Chief Deputy Auditor/Treasurer Kathy Kortuem has been filling the vacancy of auditor/treasurer since Paul Gassert retired at the end of May.
Kortuem, who has 19 years working alongside Gassert, also has an accounting degree and worked six years at the St. Louis County Auditor/Treasurer's Office prior. She moved to Carlton County in 1987.
Since Gassert retired, Kortuem has been the acting auditor/treasurer.
A public meeting was held during the Board of Commissioners regular session Aug. 13 to discuss changing the auditor/treasurer position from an elected position to an appointed position.
Cloquet resident Clarence Badger spoke passionately to the commissioners against the change. He was concerned the commissioners were taking power away from the residents and placing it in the hands of officials.
The commissioners unanimously voted to appoint Kortuem to the position effective Sept. 13. Other options were to hold a special election in November, which would be a cost to taxpayers, or have Kortuem run for election in 2020, when Gassert's term would have expired.
The decision can be reversed back to an elected position in three years.
Kortuem is currently performing her previous and current job duties.
“I really, really like it,” Kortuem said. “It has been challenging. Paul was a very hands-on auditor and had a wealth of knowledge.”
She explained the office gets a variety of calls for questions Gassert would either know the answer to, or know where to quickly find the answer. For example, the office has fielded calls asking details about elections and from residents trying to find information about local taxes from years before the internet.
“Our office does so much; we touch so many places,” Kortuem said. “You learn by being a part of the group. It’s a really interesting job.”