Hennepin County, Minnesota
Hennepin County is one of 87 counties in Minnesota. It is the most populous county in the U.S. state of Minnesota. The county is bordered by the Mississippi River on the east and north and the Minnesota River on the south. Hennepin County is at the center of seven-county Minneapolis-St. Paul, the sixteenth largest metropolitan area in the United States with about 3.2 million residents. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population of Hennepin County at 1,122,093 in 2006. The county seat is Minneapolis, the largest city in the state. The center of population of Minnesota is located in the city of Rogers.
Last rated on September 17, 2012.
- Budgets are posted..
- Meeting schedule, agendas, minutes, and videos are posted.
- Elected Officials
- Provides a list of the commissioners and their contact information.
- Administrative Officials
- Officials are listed with contact information.
- Audits are posted.
- Bids are posted.
- Local Taxes
- Provides local tax information and rates.
- Building Permits and Zoning
- No information on building permits or zoning.
- Current contracts are not posted.
- Public Records
- No information on how to file for public records.
Like all counties in Minnesota, Hennepin is governed by an elected and nonpartisan board of commissioners. In Minnesota, county commissions usually have five members, but Hennepin, Ramsey, and St Louis counties have seven members. Each commissioner represents a district of equal population. In Hennepin the county commission appoints the medical examiner, county auditor-treasurer and county recorder. The sheriff and county attorney are also elected on a nonpartisan ticket. The county government's headquarters are in downtown Minneapolis in the Hennepin County Government Center. The county oversees the Hennepin County Library system, which in 2008 merged with and incorporated the Minneapolis Public Library system.
County Board of Commissions
The county commission elects a chair who presides at meetings. Commissioners as of April 2011
|1st||Mike Opat (chair)|
|2nd||Mark Stenglein (vice-chair)|
The County Attorney serves as the chief prosecutor of all adult felony crimes and juvenile offenses in Hennepin County. The County Attorney is also responsible for providing legal counsel to the County Board of Commissioners and all county departments, as well as representing the county in civil lawsuits, child support matters, child protection actions and mental health commitments.
- gang prosecution
- protecting vulnerable adults
- educational neglect and truancy
- mortgage fraud
Hennepin County's normal operations are coordinated by the County Administrator Richard Johnson, Deputy Administrator David Hough, Assistant County Administrator for Human Services and Public Health Daniel E. Engstrom and Assistant County Administrator for Public Works Marthand Nookala.
The county administrator makes recommendations to the county board, implements its policies, provides leadership to the organization and assures effective delivery of county services. Departments reporting directly to the county administrator include:
- Budget and Finance
- Human Resources
- Intergovernmental Relations
- Internal Audit
- Labor Relations
- Metropolitan Health Plan
- Primary Care
- Public Affairs
- Research, Planning & Development
The deputy administrator assists in the development of proposed operating and capital budgets and policy recommendations for the county board, recommends new management approaches and strategies, and develops more effective methods of delivering county services. County operations reporting directly to the deputy administrator include:
- Community Corrections
- County Assessor
- Information Technology
- Law Library
- Medical Examiner
- Property Services
- Purchasing and Contract Services
- Taxpayer Services
The assistant county administrator for Human Services and Public Health is responsible for the overall administration and financial management of Hennepin County’s human services delivery system. Specific duties include:
- advising the county board, county administrator, and deputy county administrator on human service policies and issues;
- coordinating the examination and implementation of human services legislation;
- coordinating community-based human services.
The assistant county administrator for Public Works is responsible for advising the county board, county administrator and deputy county administrator on policies and issues and ensuring coordination between Public Works departments, public and private agencies, community organizations and partnerships. The assistant county administrator also serves as the Deputy Executive Director of the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority. Public Works departments reporting to the assistant county administrator are:
- Emergency Preparedness
- Environmental Services
- Housing, Community Works and Transit
- Public Works Management Support
On September 27, 2010, Hennepin County Administrator Richard P. Johnson presented the County Council with his 2011 Hennepin County budget recommendation.
The proposed 2011 Hennepin County budget is approximately $1.6 billion. This is an overall proposed decrease of 5.2 percent, or $86 million, from the adjusted 2010 budget. The proposed operating portion of the budget totals $1.4 billion, which is a decrease of 1.8 percent, or $25.6 million, from the 2010 adjusted budget. The capital budget totals $135.3 million, which is $60.4 million, or 30.9 percent less than the adjusted 2010 level.
With respect to operations, budgets for all business lines are reduced, ranging from 9.9 percent for General Government departments and 4.2 percent in Human Services, to the smallest reductions -- less than 2 percent -- in Public Safety and Libraries. This results in cost savings but also means that residents and clients are seeing reductions in some services. And, 2011 is the second year in a two-year labor agreement with no employee cost-of-living adjustment, and there are no step increases for 2011.
The proposed capital budget totals $135.3 million, which is 30.9 percent less than the adjusted 2010 capital budget. Much of the difference between the two budgets is due to the Lowry Avenue Bridge being fully funded in 2010 and reductions in proposed funding for Library and General Government projects.
There is no increase in the property tax levy for this proposed budget. The net property tax levy is $676.2 million. Maintaining this level was possible in part by using funds from the additional property tax you set aside last year in anticipation of possible shortfalls in state aid as well as by using fund balance.
Even with no increase in the property tax levy for the proposed budget, other economic pressures mean many homeowners are likely to see an increase in the amount they pay. The majority of residential homes in the county saw a drop in property value this year. However, commercial-industrial property also saw more significant value decreases, resulting in a shift in tax burden from commercial-industrial to residential properties. The result is that, even with a zero property tax increase, many homeowners whose values dropped from the 2010 to the 2011 assessment will still see an increase in the county portion of their property tax bill.
Hennepin County Medical Center, due to state changes in its health care programs, was faced with increased financial and liquidity risks last year. Thanks in part to County Board action last year which anticipated those risks, as well as some positive legislative changes, HCMC remains able to accomplish its mission. As a Safety Net hospital, HCMC still provides healthcare to those citizens who don’t have insurance or the means to pay for service. The 2011 proposed budget includes $32.8 million for uncompensated care payments to HCMC, which is the same amount budgeted for 2010 support HCMC. There is still much uncertainty about the impact on HCMC of the revised state General Assistance Medical Care program and of the federal health care reform bill. As a result, the proposed budget includes $15.8 million for HCMC contingency. That money is set aside to be used as needed during the year.
Bonded indebtedness continues to be one of the most significant cost drivers for the county. The property tax levy for debt service is proposed to increase $8.6 million -- from $62.5 million in 2010 to $71.1 million in 2011. It is also anticipated that the property tax for debt service will increase substantially for 2012 and future years. Last year the County Board adopted debt guidelines to try to limit debt service increases. Nevertheless, even if debt service growth is within the debt guidelines, it is projected that the debt service property tax levy will exceed $105 million by 2015, as debt is retired for past and future capital projects.
Public Employee Pay
There are 420 employees making more than $100,000. Below are the top 10 earners:
|2009||ANDREW M BAKER||MEDICAL EXAMINER||MED EXAM||$235,324|
|2009||MITCHEL K MOREY||MEDICAL EXAMINER||MEDICAL EXAMINER, ASSISTANT||$202,904|
|2009||NELS K LANGSTEN||HUMAN SERVICES AND PUBLIC HEALTH||PHYSICIAN, SENIOR ASSOCIATE||$198,371|
|2009||CORBY J BENSON||HUMAN SERVICES AND PUBLIC HEALTH||PHYSICIAN, SENIOR ASSOCIATE||$197,693|
|2009||NGOZI J WAMUO||HUMAN SERVICES AND PUBLIC HEALTH||PHYSICIAN, SENIOR ASSOCIATE||$195,300|
|2009||JAMES A FABER||COUNTY ATTORNEY||ATTORNEY, SENIOR||$193,652|
|2009||SUZANNE M ZUIDEMA||METROPOLITAN HEALTH PLAN||MHP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR||$182,411|
|2009||OWEN L MIDDLETON||MEDICAL EXAMINER||MEDICAL EXAMINER, ASSISTANT||$175,847|
|2009||RONALD B WAHLBERG||NORTHPOINT HEALTH AND WELLNESS||PHYSICIAN, ASSOCIATE||$170,887|
Hennepin County public employee pay, by department:
|BUDGET & FINANCE||36||88.9||69,073||0||0.0||2,154,650|
|EXAMINER OF TITLES DIVISION||9||88.9||83,605||0||0.0||573,578|
|HOUSING, COMMUNITY WORKS & TRANSIT||43||90.7||67,956||1,402||0.1||2,586,860|
|HUMAN SERVICES AND PUBLIC HEALTH||3410||79.0||51,336||604,730||0.4||153,643,008|
|METROPOLITAN HEALTH PLAN||251||73.7||58,704||185,070||1.7||10,715,600|
|MINNESOTA BALLPARK AUTHORITY||3||66.7||67,704||0||0.0||220,521|
|NORTHPOINT HEALTH AND WELLNESS CENTER||230||47.0||55,128||42,714||0.5||8,678,660|
|PUBLIC WORKS ADMINISTRATION||15||100.0||55,128||968||0.1||917,774|
|PUBLIC WORKS MANAGEMENT SUPPORT||67||91.0||50,118||37,288||1.1||3,325,420|
|PURCHASING & CONTRACT SERVICES DIVISION||20||80.0||63,330||0||0.0||1,039,170|
|RESEARCH PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT||28||89.3||71,352||227||0.0||1,628,240|
- Main article: Minnesota government sector lobbying
- Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC)
- National Association of Counties (NACo)
- League of Minnesota Cities (LMC)
- National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
- National Governor's Association (NGA)
Data obtained from Minnesota State Auditor Lobbying Reports
As of April 2011, there does not appear to be transparent information on how to file for public records. There is a webpage for the Public Records Division, but no information on resident rights and process for requesting public records.
Hennepin County offers a variety of property tax related information for and about constituent taxing districts. On their Taxing District webpage, cities, schools and other taxing districts can find information about tax base values, tax rates, and other data specific to their district. In addition, summary value and rate tables are available to anyone interested in property tax issues in Hennepin County.
- Board of Commissioners
- Intergovernmental Relations
- Taxing Information
- County Attorney
- County Administration
- 2011 Proposed Budget
- Minnesota Public Employee Salaries, accessed April 29, 2011
- StarTribune: Hennepin County public employee pay, by department
- "Scott County: Spending tax dollars to get tax dollars," Star Tribune, September 4, 2010