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Dakota County earns top financial rating

According to two private independent rating services, Dakota County once again earned the highest possible ratings for its financial management, keeping its AAA rating on outstanding general obligation debt.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services affirmed the county’s AAA rating under the company’s new criteria. Fewer than 100 of the United States’ 3,143 counties achieved the rating, according to the most recent report. S&P has also given Dakota County the highest financial management assessment of “strong.” This is an increase over the “good” that was designated in August. AAA and “strong” are the highest designations in their respective categories. The rating reflects S&P’s assessment of a strong local economy, very strong budgetary flexibility and “very strong management conditions with strong policies and practices.”

Moody’s Investors Service also affirmed the AAA rating and said it reflects Dakota County’s diversified tax base, well-managed financial operations, healthy reserve levels and low debt burden. The AAA rating supports the view that the county’s overall credit profile will remain strong with continued financial management and improving economic conditions. Fewer than 10 percent of Moody’s county ratings are AAA.

FNAP accepts applications

The Dakota County Board of Commissioners has provided landowners with another opportunity to protect land and water by authorizing an 11th annual Farmland and Natural Areas Program application round. Those interested must complete a preliminary application to the county by Oct. 31. Eligible property owners will be asked to complete a final application after meeting with program staff.

Funding continues to be made available to preserve and protect open space in Dakota County. The county works with willing landowners to permanently protect private land by acquiring conservation easements or working with other public partners to purchase the land. Through collaboration, grants and landowner donation, the county has leveraged $52 million to protect more than 9,200 acres of land valued at more than $69 million.

For information or to obtain a pre-application, visit and search land conservation. To learn more, call Lisa West at 952-891-7018.

Parking permits available for waterfowl hunting

Dakota County is offering parking permits for 2013 waterfowl hunt access in Spring Lake Park Reserve, 8395 127th St. E., Hastings.

Nine parking permits will be available each day from Oct. 22 to Dec. 28 and will grant permit holders access to parking at Bud’s Landing in Spring Lake Park Reserve from 4 10 p.m. Cost is $10 plus tax.

For information or to apply for a daily parking permit, visit and search waterfowl hunting.