Viewpoint: A track record of ‘redesigning government’Redesigning government is a current buzzword; I have been redesigning government and creating efficiencies for the last 17 years on the Washington County Board.
By: Myra Peterson, South Washington County Bulletin
Redesigning government is a current buzzword; I have been redesigning government and creating efficiencies for the last 17 years on the Washington County Board.
- In 2010 Washington County employed 4.5 employees per 1,000 residents, a number that makes the county tied for the lowest in the metropolitan area.
- In 2010, Washington County spent $774 per resident per year, making it the lowest spending county in the metropolitan area.
- Washington County has reduced the number of department heads from 22 to 11 including the elected sheriff and county attorney
- Washington County social service per capita cost is the lowest of all 87 counties in the state.
- Washington County shifted from a heavy reliance on property taxes to user fees to help pay for transportation improvements.
- Washington County has worked with our watersheds to redesign watershed districts from 12 to 7.
- On a regional level I and my regional partners have merged the Metropolitan Radio Board and the 911 Joint Powers Board into a single board called the Metropolitan Emergency Service Board.
Increased efficiency has allowed Washington County to plan for future growth while holding the line on property taxes.
- Washington County has made it easier to access services by opening new service centers in our growth areas in the north and south portions of the County.
- Washington County has built a new courts building which houses the state’s judicial employees.
- County residents are enjoying new park facilities at the St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park,
- We opened Big Marine Regional Park and purchased land on Grey Cloud Island with an eye toward a new regional park on the Mississippi.
- Library Technology improvements for check out and circulation of our library materials were made and now we have installed a kiosk system in the Hugo city hall so the citizens can order and receive library materials.
- Washington County is one of the 48 counties out of 3,000 in U.S. that has an AAA bond rating. Standard & Poor’s analysts were impressed with how the county has managed the challenges of the past several years, and positioned itself for future stability and success.
- Washington County policymakers have been very responsible. We did not increase our levy for 2010 and we have reduced our staff by nearly 38 positions in 2009 and 2010 while citizens’ need for county programs and services has grown.
Transportation is important to Washington County residents. I have taken the lead on the Washington County Board for transportation policy. My leadership was critical in the construction of the new Wakota Bridge and the Tower/Hinton connection, and I continue to champion road safety, expansion and maintenance. My involvement was instrumental in developing the Cottage Grove Park and Ride and express bus service to St. Paul and Minneapolis.
We need to prepare for the future growth of our area and the utilization of our existing rail tracks for a public/private partnership that will develop the Red Rock Commuter Rail, high-speed passenger rail to Chicago as well as making safety improvements for our freight rail service. The county has purchased the old Knox site for a park and ride bus service in Newport and a future commuter rail station as well as a bus rapid transit station for Interstate Highway 494.
Myra Peterson is running for the District 4 Washington County Board seat.