STURGIS — Kevin Forrester has been appointed the new Meade County auditor.
Forrester’s appointment comes following the resignation of long-time auditor Lisa Schieffer at the Meade County Commission meeting on May 11.
Schieffer has been hired as the new city administer for the city of Summerset. According to the minutes of the May 20, Summerset City Commission meeting, the commission voted to hire Schieffer to replace Lonnie Harmon.
The Meade County Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday, May 25, to replace Schieffer with Forrester.
By state statute, the board makes appointments when there is a vacancy in the office of an elected official such as the auditor. Schieffer’s last official day in office was May 31.
Forrester was sworn into office on Tuesday by Fourth Circuit Judge Kevin Krull. Schieffer’s term would have continued through March of 2023. If Forrester does seek not seek election to the office of auditor in 2022, his appointment would expire in March of 2023.
Forrester has served the Meade County as the facility manager/IT director for 25 years. During this time, he has managed departmental budgets, large scale construction projects, technical infrastructure, and software deployments.
His task-oriented background and willingness to accept new challenges while maintaining a desire for personal growth has led him to being appointed as the auditor, said Commission Chairman Ted Seaman.
The commission appointed Forrester in dual role position, so he will continue as facility manager/IT director as well as auditor.
“I think this is a good fix until we get to the next election,” Meade County Commissioner Talbot Wieczorek said. “There are a lot of IT updates that have to be done in that office and transition on software. Kevin will bring that skill there and will help get everything up to speed.”
Forrester, a lifelong resident of Meade County, graduated from Sturgis Brown High School in 1985. He is active in the Black Hills Trails group and recently was appointed to a position on the Sturgis City Council.
Meade County also has another elected official opening yet to be filled. Meade County Treasurer Susan Boadwine submitted her letter of resignation at the Meade County Commission meeting Tuesday, March 23, with her resignation effective May 1.
The commission said last week that they had solicited applicants for the treasurer’s position and planned to do interviews with applicants at the commission’s meeting on June 8.
With the resignations and staff changes, the workload has been shifting to other staff members in other departments/offices in the county, Meade County HR manager/commission assistant Jerry Derr told the commission.
The commission agreed to give Forrester an additional $1,000 a month during the time he fills both positions starting with the June pay period. They also voted to give the Register of Deeds, Director of Equalization and Planning, and Commission assistant an additional $750 a month to ensure county duties are handled. That vote was 5-1 with Ted Seaman, Talbot Wieczorek, Rich Liggett, and Rod Bradley voted yes and Commissioner Doreen Creed voted no.
Wieczorek clarified the Forrester would continue to draw only his salary as facility manager/IT director along with an additional $1,000 a month, but not the auditor’s salary as well.
“We’ve lost good people. We’ve got a lot of good people here. I tell people all the time I was very proud of how our employees through the last year have stepped up, showed up and done their work,” Wieczorek said.
Now, given what the market is for employees and the time it will take to get those positions filled, the county will need to call on other department heads to put in extra time to get things done.
“Giving them a little extra reward makes sense,” Wieczorek said.
Sturgis resident Bernie Usera came before the board to request what the change in Register of Deeds duties would be, and why it would require an increase in pay.
Commissioner Rod Bradley explained that with the voids that are present within the county workforce currently, the commission is looking to have everybody pitch in and build a team to carry the ball through the next election.
“We’re looking at this as a time period where we look at every process and say, ‘where does that fit best?,’” he said.
Seaman said what’s happening currently is a work in progress.
“We’ve just lost two people and we’re working to put the team together with expectations that we can continue on in the treasurer’s and auditor’s offices,” he said.
The commission also voted unanimously to use American Rescue Plan Act funds (pending that it will be an authorized expenditure) to give $50 a month to each employee that has been employed starting March 1, 2020, through the July 2021 pay period. Commissioners said they wanted to express thanks to the employees who worked during the COVID pandemic.
This would include all full-time benefited employees, including elected but excluding the commission. That would be a payout of about $850 per employee which would cost the county about $96,000 to $98,000.
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