Dakota County, Minnesota

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Budget Y
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Meetings Y
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Elected Officials Y
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Administrative Officials P
Permits, zoning Y
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Audits Y
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Contracts Y
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Lobbying N
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Public records N
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Local taxes
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Transparency grading process

Dakota County is 593 square miles in area and has a population of approximately 400,000. Situated in the southeast corner of the Twin Cities Metropolitan area, it is the third most populous county in the state of Minnesota. Dakota County maintains a land use mixture of 1/3 urban, 1/3 suburban, and 1/3 rural. This combination of land use and the confluence of two major rivers (the Mississippi and Minnesota) that form the county's northern and eastern borders makes Dakota County a unique geographic area.[1]

Founded in 1849, Dakota County was one of the original nine counties created by the Minnesota Territory Legislature. Thus, it was established before Minnesota was considered a state. The County seat moved to Hastings in 1857, where it has remained.[1]

Between 1990 and 2000, Dakota County's population grew by nearly 30%. This growth continues, with another five percent increase expected by the end of the decade. In recent years, second and third ring communities in Dakota County (Burnsville, Eagan, Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley, Farmington, Lakeville, and Rosemount) have dramatically increased in population, as development continues to move outwards from the urban core of Minneapolis and St. Paul, into suburban municipalities.[1]

Website evaluation

Last rated on September 17, 2012.

The good

  • Budget
    • Budgets are posted.[2]
  • Meetings
    • Meeting schedule, minutes, and agendas are posted.[3]
  • Elected Officials
    • Board members are listed with contact information.[4]
  • Building Permits and Zoning
    • There is information on permits and zoning.[5]
  • Audits
    • Audits are posted.[6]
  • Contracts
    • Bids and contracts are posted.[7]
  • Local Taxes
    • Tax information is posted.[8]

The bad

  • Administrative Officials
    • Officials are not listed with contact information.
  • Lobbying
    • No information regarding lobbying.
  • Public Records


Minnesota is unique in that it is one of the few states in the Union that maintains a county-administered program delivery system. This model means that the county becomes the access point to state and federal programs. It also means that the county government has a much larger role in the provision and creation of services.[9]

The Dakota County government performs all of the normal activities of county government like record collection, property evaluation, and road maintenance. And because of the extra responsibilities placed on counties in Minnesota, Dakota County also provides a wide range of social and humanitarian services that are accessible to its residents.[9]

Dakota County has seven elected County Commissioners that determine policy direction. Other elected officials include the County Attorney and the Sheriff. Dakota County also maintains a County Administrator management structure. The County Administrator is responsible for general management of operations and implementing the policies and recommendations set forth by the County Board.[9]

Board of Commissioners

Current County Commissioners as of April 2011:[10]

District Name Board Member
Current Term
District 1 Joseph A. Harris (Chair) 1981 2012
District 2 Kathleen A. Gaylord 2003 2014
District 3 Thomas A. Egan 2005 2012
District 4 Nancy Schouweiler 1999 2014
District 5 Liz Workman 2009 2012
District 6 Paul J. Krause 1995 2014
District 7 Willis E. Branning 1997 2012

On their website, the Board lists its strategic priorities for 2011 (dead link).[11]

County Administration

Brandt Richardson, County Administrator. The County Administrator is the administrative head of the County who is responsible for managing County operations and for carrying out all decisions, policies, ordinances and resolutions of the Board of Commissioners. The County Administrator's duties include the preparation of the recommended annual budget and long-range Capital Improvement Program.[12]


The 2011 adopted budget is $307.5 million, compared to the 2010 adopted budget of $368.0 million. The operating budget for the county is adopted at $234.6 million. Property tax revenue to finance the budget increased to $129.4 million.[13]

Public employee pay and benefits

Main article: Minnesota public pensions

The website posts a list of county job descriptions that list monthly salary ranges for specific jobs.[14]

As of April 2011, there are Fifty-Nine (59) county jobs that have the potential of earning $100,000 or more a year (with $8,333 a month equaling $100,000 a year).[14]

Position Min. Monthly
Max. Monthly
Chief Deputy County Attorney $7,208.33 $11,391.67
Director, Public Services and Revenue $7,208.33 $11,391.67
First Assistant County Attorney $7,208.33 $11,391.67
Director, Community Services $7,208.33 $11,391.67
Director, Physical Development $7,208.33 $11,391.67
Executive Director $7,208.33 $11,391.67
Director, Operations, Management and Budget $7,208.33 $11,391.67
Director, Financial Services $6,975.00 $10,908.33
Legal Division Head $6,966.67 $10,458.33
Director, Information Technology $6,750.00 $10,450.00
Deputy Director Public Services and Revenue $6,750.00 $10,450.00
Director, Library $6,750.00 $10,450.00
Director, Employee Relations $6,750.00 $10,450.00
Director, Transportation/County Engineer $6,750.00 $10,450.00
Chief Deputy Sheriff $6,508.33 $9,958.33
Director, Community Corrections $6,508.33 $9,958.33
Director, Employment and Economic Assistance $6,508.33 $9,958.33
Director, Operations Management $6,508.33 $9,958.33
Director, Social Services $6,508.33 $9,958.33
Deputy Director Community Services $6,508.33 $9,958.33
Director, Public Health $6,508.33 $9,958.33
Director, Property Tax and Records $6,508.33 $9,958.33
Director, Assessing Services $6,508.33 $9,958.33
Deputy Director Library $6,291.67 $9,541.67
Director, Public Information and Communications $6,291.67 $9,541.67
Director, Environment and Natural Resources $6,291.67 $9,541.67
Attorney IV $6,058.33 $9,091.67
Assistant County Engineer WSC $6,058.33 $9,091.67
Assistant County Engineer - Empire $6,058.33 $9,091.67
Attorney III $6,058.33 $9,091.67
Manager, Information Technology $5,408.33 $9,091.67
Deputy Director Employment and Economic Assistance $5,866.67 $8,700.00
Deputy Director Social Services $5,866.67 $8,700.00
Deputy Director, Public Health $5,866.67 $8,700.00
Commander $5,866.67 $8,700.00
Deputy Director, Public Health $5,866.67 $8,700.00
Director, Parks $5,866.67 $8,700.00
Deputy Director, Community Corrections-Juvenile Se... $5,866.67 $8,700.00
Deputy Director, Community Corrections-Adult Servi... $5,866.67 $8,700.00
Deputy Director, Employee Relations $5,866.67 $8,700.00
Director, Environmental Management $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Director, Service and License Center $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Engineer-Program, Design, Construction/Maintenance... $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Manager, Capital Planning $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Manager, Facilities $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Program Engineer $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Deputy Director, Property Tax and Records $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Director, Budget $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Manager, Finance Operations $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Manager, Office of Planning and Analysis $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Director, Water Resources $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Design Engineer $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Manager, Transit $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Manager, Risk and Homeland Security $5,666.67 $8,333.33
CJIIN Coordinator $5,666.67 $8,333.33
Data Networking Specialist $4,516.67 $8,333.33
Mainframe Systems Programmer $4,516.67 $8,333.33
System Administrator $4,516.67 $8,333.33
Database Administrator $4,516.67 $8,333.33

Benefit coverage effective on the first day of employment:[15]

  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Basic and Supplemental Life Insurance
  • Short-Term Disability - Covers time from date of illness or injury through end of 6th month
  • Long-Term Disability - Covers time from beginning of 7th month to age 65
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (Healthcare and Dependent Care)
  • Long Term Care
  • Wellness Credit
  • Paid Holidays - 10 per calendar year
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association) - Required defined benefit pension plan.
  • Deferred Compensation Plan - Voluntary defined contribution pension plan.

Flex Leave (paid time off) combines vacation, sick leave and funeral leave.[15] Accrual rates per calendar year:

  • 0 through 5 years – 20 days
  • 6 through 10 years – 24 days
  • 11 through 15 years – 30 days
  • 16+ years – 38 days

Part-time employees are eligible for entire benefits program. However, you must earn enough to cover the required payroll deductions. The employer contribution is pro-rated, based on the budgeted FTE.[15]


In 2008, Dakota County federal lobbying reports.[16] Dakota spent $30,000 between 2006-2010 on lobbying the federal government.[17]

The county has spent the following on government sector lobbying in the state from 2005-2009. This includes both contracts with lobbyists and membership in government sector lobbying associations

Year Amount
2009 $122,414.00
2008 $109,217.00
2007 $115,533.00
2006 $101,078
2005 $104,767

Data obtained from Minnesota State Auditor Lobbying Reports


The county website has information on home and property taxes[18] as well as fees, permit costs, and other information related to doing business in the county.[5]

The Property Taxation & Records Department computes property taxes by multiplying the value of property by the total tax rate of the district in which the property is located. Residential homesteads receive market value homestead credit, which directly reduces the property taxes up to a maximum of $304.00. Agricultural properties also receive a credit.[19]

Transparency/Public Records

The Minnesota Data Practices Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Minnesota.

See also:

External links