We (John and Matt) agree the people make Carver County the best place to live, work and play.
We’re honored and humbled to build on the work of prior commissioners, and it’s not lost on us that 2021 marks the first change to the board in 14 years. It’s an adjustment, as well as a sizable investment of staff time through taxpayer dollars, to get onboarded on topical depth, nuance and operations.
We love hearing your questions and insights — here are some from our first 100 days.
“What does a County Commissioner do?”
A board of five county commissioners serve as key policymakers, overseeing the operation and administration of the county. We’re both focused on creating connection, which happens through listening and learning while building high-trust relationships with the 105,000 residents, 750 staff, key stakeholders, decisions makers, future residents, future business owners and other valued partners.
Incoming county commissioners participate in many training sessions, including those offered by the Association of Minnesota Counties. In one of these sessions, the duties of a county commissioner and wisdom from seasoned commissioners in other counties was shared. We oversee the county’s management and represent county interests at the state and federal level, participating in long-range planning and managing the county budget and finances.
To manage the scope of these duties requires a great deal of information. We’re both thankful we can lean on past experiences in public service, as well as our private sector backgrounds, to hit the ground running and readily contribute. We continue to listen and educate ourselves while providing a vision and leadership in moving the county forward and to represent all the citizens of Carver County.
“Are the commissioners the only decision makers in county government?”
No, the county commissioners are not the only governing bodies. Other elected county officials, such as the county attorney and county sheriff, manage their departments accordingly. As a county board, our most important tasks during the year are setting strategy and wrapping the budget around these priorities.
“How do you work with your peer leaders in the county?”
Partnerships are key. We have regular formal and informal meetings with peer leaders representing the various schools in our county. Public school systems in Minnesota operate independently of county government. County boards do not exercise control over local school districts, school boards or school tax levies. It’s important to understand those powers are in the hands of the schools.
We also work with closely with city and township leadership. A good example is the Highway 10 Corridor Study where county is point for building/maintaining county highways, and the cities are key inputs in how they must best function for residents, future businesses, etc. Finally, we work closely with not-for-profits, civic organizations and the like – stretching the tax dollar, removing overlap and delivering the best services.
“Where else do the commissioners represent us?”
After being sworn in in January, commissioners are appointed to various boards and advisory groups like County Parks, Mental Health Advisories, Regional Libraries, Arts Committee, Community Development Association, Planning Commission and more. It has been exciting and challenging to learn and understand the depth of impact these boards have on the county in service to the residents.
“What have we been accomplishing in the first 100 days of 2021?”
We continue to provide all the county’s various services during the pandemic. Our current service plan calls for largely maintaining services in virtual or by appointment until June 1, and the County Board will chart the course for the best, safest reopening plan.
We are keenly involved with post-pandemic work environments will look like, including evaluating the costs and efficiencies of serving residents best and the impact to morale and engagement of the hard-working staff.
We are starting to discuss the best use of expected federal funding from the American Recovery Plan. We continue to strengthen and elevate partnerships. Just one example is our partnership with Ridgeview for COVID-19 vaccine doses. In so doing, we are one of the top counties as it relates to vaccination access and those vaccinated. Together we can deliver more doses faster, paving the way for more doses to come our way.
Also, progress continues the Highway 212 expansion from Carver to Cologne — the first major development since Highway 212 opened in 2008. Trees and buildings are being removed with the dirt work beginning in May. All planned work is off the existing highway, which allows Highway 212 to remain open. The estimated completion is fall 2022. The next five years could prove to be the largest and most expansive projects the county has ever seen.
Carver County is currently the healthiest and fastest-growing county in Minnesota. We don’t take that for granted and work to be even better in areas of disparity.
The first 100 days are just a start to the time ahead as we and the county’s staff continue to work hard to serve you to keep Carver County a great place to live; raise our families; own a business; educate our children; and enjoy its many amenities.