Going to the dentist's office for a check-up always makes me nervous. Even though I brush and floss, I can't help but worry a little when the hygienist starts poking around. It is nice to get a good report at the end of the exam. Likewise, as a Dakota County commissioner, I and many others at the county work hard throughout the year to ensure the county's financial health is sound, but, like the dentist visit, it is still nice to hear from independent auditors and outside rating agencies that we have a had a good fiscal check-up.
When I started writing this column, the Minnesota Twins were on TV beating Cleveland in their home opener, my email inbox was rapidly flooding with notices of countywide road construction, sandbagging efforts were protecting South St. Paul and Hastings from actual flooding, and Dakota County's Byllesby Dam was holding back a raging river from ravaging Cannon Falls a mere mile downstream. This confirmed for me that in spite of our seemingly never-ending winter, it may finally be spring here in Dakota County.
As 2018 winds to a close, it's a good time to share some highlights from this past year. Nationally recognized for public safety. Out of 3,000 counties nationwide, Dakota County was singled out in July for the National Association of Counties' top award in public safety. Protected kids and families. In 2018, the county assisted with over $40 million in child support collections as well as out-of-home placements, chemical health assessments, and approximately 50,000 intake and crisis calls.
Does the state have your money? Minnesota is holding over $700 million in unclaimed funds that belongs to Minnesotans, including $1,003,958.64 that belongs to residents and businesses that I represent in Rosemount.
Again this year, we have the great honor in Dakota County of hosting Minnesota's official Veterans Day program, which will occur at 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Veterans Memorial Community Center in Inver Grove Heights. It has been a privilege for us to have the official program here in Dakota County for well over a decade now. While we will honor veterans from across Minnesota at the official ceremony, I want to take time to particularly recognize our local vets — both active and retired, young and old, those still with us, and those who have passed away.
Are you tired of elected officials who cannot seem to work together on anything? The rancor, finger-pointing and negative campaign ads that fill our mailboxes and dominate our TV and radio airwaves these days leave many people deeply disappointed and dismayed. Amidst this desert of divisiveness, however, Dakota County stands out as an oasis of cooperation.
The evening news is filled with footage of federal officials yelling at each other, pointing fingers, and disagreeing over seemingly everything. The opposite is typically true here in Dakota County. Local elected officials at the city and county spend most of our energy quietly seeking common ground and commonsense solutions.
In a state known nationally for its quality of life, Movoto listed Dakota County among the eight best counties for quality of life in Minnesota. In a survey of county residents, 95 percent rated their quality of life in Dakota County highly. Our quality of life ratings were higher than the benchmark of comparable counties across the nation. This is among the data that shows how well we are doing. As stated in last week's column, data also shedding light on challenges we face. This week I will focus on quality-of-life issues.
As a lifelong resident and small-business owner, I have found Dakota County to be a terrific place to live, work and raise a family. Each year I check to see whether objective data supports my belief. Below are the statistics, using only the most up-to-date sources I can find. The data shows how well we are doing, while also shedding light on challenges we face. This week I will focus on financial and economic matters.
I hope you are enjoying the start of spring ... finally. This is a busy time in Dakota County. First-time Homebuyer Program Did you know Dakota County has a First-time Homebuyer Program? Celebrating its 35th year, Dakota County's program is administered by the Dakota County Community Development Agency and has helped more than 5,000 Dakota County residents purchase their first homes. Homebuyers purchasing their first home in Dakota County can access: • Fixed interest rate mortgage financing • Mortgage credit certificate