COOK COUNTRY, MINNESOTA December 6, 2010 (LSN) Much of government work is transactional, process oriented and somedays down right mundane. But within this structured framework there is always the opportunity for creativity, collaboration and leadership to improve the way we deliver services. 2019 has been an eventful year filled with opportunities and challenges, some of which are highlighted below.
2019 saw two long term initiatives/issues finally resolved:
These issues, of course, were replaced with new challenges: Thye-Blatnik (BWCA Payment in Lieu of Taxes) proposed payment reduction and the impacts of increased vacation rentals.
The Assessor’s Office has been involved in addressing these issues – and in finishing the fifth year of assessments in our quintile, bringing Cook County in compliance with the Department of Revenue’s schedule for property assessments. Land Services took on the challenge of trying to understand the scope of increased vacation rentals through the Vacation Rental Licensing Project. During the next few years the county will require the licensing of vacation rentals, ensuring that health and public safety issues are being addressed. This project will be reassessed by the Board after two years.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller
This year Cook County departments have collaborated with the City of Grand Marais, the State of Minnesota, North Shore Health, ISD 166, other county departments, and many other groups. Following are a few notable examples of what those partnerships accomplished:
This year the Highway Department took on a couple of long-awaited projects: CSAH 17 in Grand Portage and the South Shore Drive project. The weather impacted the completion of the latter, but this project will be completed during the 2020 construction season. Additionally, the Highway Department has received $2,498,000 in state and federal transportation grants that will be applied to multiple projects from 2021 to 2024.
The Recorder’s Office partnered with the GIS division of the Management Information Systems office on the Public Land Survey System Project. This project uses surveyor information to improve our GIS data based on original public surveys. The project outcome is valuable to surveyors and property owners. Also featured are historical and current surveyor notes, which are viewable online.
Working with the Highway Department, the GIS division also created an online version of the county highway map that can be used offline to track your location. More map apps are planned soon.
Three significant capital bonding projects will come to a successful close by the end of this year:
The final capital bonding project is the replacement of the outdated 911 hardware and software at the Sheriff’s Office. This project should be complete next spring.
One of the challenges facing all counties is the rising cost of foster care due to increased use of opioids and methamphetamines. Cook County Public Health and Human Services has made the case that proper staffing of social workers proactively addresses the fallout from societal issues like addiction: between 2012 and 2018, Cook County’s foster care placement costs dropped from $418,000 to $221,000 per year due, in large part, to this change in staffing.
Several plans with significant potential impacts were developed and approved by the Board this year:
Government is made up of people. Some notable changes include:
Additional information about county programs and initiatives is available on the county website, https://co.cook.mn.us
By: Cook County Interim Administrator Rena Rogers
County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.
Cook County is at the tip of Minnesota's Arrowhead region in the remote northeastern part of the state, stretching from the shores of Lake Superior to the US-Canada border. By land it borders Ontario, Canada to the north, and Lake County, MN to the west. The highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain is 2,301 feet and the highest lake, Total Area equals 3,339.72 sq miles
Cook County is home to three national protected areas:
Grand Portage National Monument
Superior National Forest
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Cook County include:
Grand Marais Lutsen Mountains
Gunflint Trail Superior Hiking Trail
Fall Colors Minnesota
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