Dawson County officials plan to appoint a new county surveyor rather than holding a costly special election in November.
Fred Youngman, who was in his fourth term as surveyor, died June 17 at his home.
Youngman was re-elected to the unpaid position in November. The term runs through 2012.
In a memo distributed Monday, County Attorney Joey Homans said Dawson County Probate Judge Jennifer Burt can make an appointment to fill Youngman’s unexpired term “because no special law directs that such function be fulfilled by some other authority.”
Glenda Ferguson, chief registrar for Dawson County, said the cost to hold a special election to fill the position would have been between $15,000 and $20,000.
“Money’s too tight to have to do this,” Homans said. “The county surveyor position is one that is rarely used.
“A hundred, even 50 years ago when we had no surveyors in the area, the elected position was necessary. But the county hasn’t used the surveyor since 1998.”
The county is also considering asking state legislators to submit legislation during the next session to eliminate the county surveyor as an elected office in Dawson County.
Homans said a local law abolishing the office requires a referendum, “unless the office of the elected county surveyor is vacant at the time the office is abolished or the person holding the office was appointed to fill a vacancy ... then such office may be abolished at any time without the necessity of a referendum.”
Commission Chairman Mike Berg said he has “every hope that’s going to be the case.”
The county’s last special election in 2007, when Terri Tragresser replaced Frank Craft on the county commission, drew just some 1,000 of the county’s more than 11,000 registered voters. A 1-cent sales tax extension was also on that ballot.
“In any event, no special election is required,” Homans said. “Instead, Judge Burt should appoint someone who meets the statutory qualifications to serve the unexpired term of office until a successor is duly elected and qualified.”
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.