County Board chair reviews 2012 achievements

2012 has been a busy and successful year for Carver County. As the year comes to a close, I would like to highlight some of the many accomplishments and endeavors.

Carver County remains financially sound and strong as we continue to retain the highest possible AAA bond rating. The $88.5 million 2013 Budget is nearly $9 million less than the 2012 Budget and will slightly reduce the County’s portion of property taxes on average-valued homes.

Work on the County’s Fiber Optic Network continued. The 89-mile ring and the planned laterals have been installed and tested. The County is now working on getting the fiber connected to facilities with a plan to go live in early 2013.
Carver County adopted new commissioner districts following the 2010 census in which governing boards go through the process of redistricting to ensure equal representation.

The 2012 election had a 95.87 percent voter turnout in Carver County with over 53,000 voters.

The Carver County Library opened an Express Library in Mayer, launched a new website and for the fourth year in a row, circulated more than 1 million items.

The County’s Strategic Plan was updated to include new goals and tasks under the areas of Communities, Culture, Connections, Finances and Growth.

Carver County has started to lay the groundwork to become a Beyond The Yellow Ribbon County in 2013. The County has also launched a new program for veterans returning from duty to ensure that they are aware of employment services.

The County assembled a security task force and is taking a phased approach to improve security at County facilities.

To much fanfare, Carver County celebrated the Governor’s Fishing Opener in Waconia.

The County implemented an Equipment Sharing Agreement with cities and townships and have begun to jointly purchase equipment to maximize the effectiveness of our capital equipment budget.

Carver County opened a new joint County/MnDOT maintenance facility in Chaska at 212 and County Road 11 that will enhance snow and ice control on MnDOT highways and county roads. The County has also retrofitted plows to incorporate the use of brine solution which is proven to reduce salt usage.

Carver County GIS launched an interactive property mapping system for mobile devices.

Internally, the County revamped the performance evaluation system to be more effective and has selectively started to implement a pay-for-performance compensation system. Also, the County has incorporated Lean Management principles to improve processes and services by increasing efficiency.

The County received a number of awards including a Sunshine Website Transparency Award, Labor/Management Award and GFOA Awards for the CAFR, Popular Annual Financial Report and Budget Book.

Carver County ranked 2nd in Minnesota in health outcomes and health factors, up from number 5 in 2011, according to the 2012 County Health Rankings report released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.

Carver County Sheriff’s Office and its partners held the second and third Prescription Drug Take-Back Days at several sites throughout Carver County. Since the first event last fall, the Sheriff’s Office has collected over 689 pounds of unwanted medications.

A number of Public Works projects were completed in 2012 including:

• Completion of County Road 11 between 212 and County 10 Engler.

• Secured $29 million in state flood mitigation funds and local road improvement funds for highway 101 bridge between Chanhassen and Shakopee. Thanks to the Governor, legislature, MnDOT and our local partners, Scott County, Chanhassen and Shakopee for their support and efforts.

• Partnered with New Germany to reconstruct County Roads 30 and 33 as part of their city wide water and sanitary sewer replacement project.

• Partnered with Cities of Victoria and Chanhassen and MnDOT to complete safety improvements on Highway 5. The County also partnered with Southwest Transit and MnDOT to provide bus service around the construction.
In addition, a number of Parks and Trails projects were completed including:

• Construction of the Lake Minnewashta and Highway 41 trail and underpass. The project constructed 2.5 miles of trail in partnership with the City of Chanhassen.

• Construction of Phase II of the Dakota Rail Regional Trail is substantially complete. The project constructed 5.5 miles of trail from Mayer to the west County line.

• Construction of Sylvia Casby Observatory and Classroom Building is underway at Baylor Regional Park. The project is funded by the Minnesota Astronomical Society. Completion of the building is planned for August 2013.

• An aquatic invasive species inspection program was implemented at Lake Minnewashta Regional Park and Lake Bavaria. The program was conducted in partnership and cooperation for lakeshore owners, Minnehaha Creek Watershed District, Carver County and the Department of Natural Resources.

• The County signed a purchase agreement for the last remaining parcel of land for the Lake Waconia Regional Park.

2012 has proven to be a busy year full of success stories. The County has made substantial progress in many areas that can be built on in 2013 and beyond. The County’s work in 2012 could not have been done without all of the dedicated employees of the County.

I’ve enjoyed this past year as board chair, and I want to say thank you to the residents of Carver County for the opportunity to serve and fellow board members for their support. I would like to thank voters for putting their faith in this County Board through re-election. We have accomplished many things and I look forward to our future.

Jim Ische was the chair of the Carver County Board of Commissioners in 2012.