January 2017 E-Newsletter

Jan Callison banner 2016

Serving Deephaven, northern Eden Prairie, Edina, Excelsior, Greenwood, Hopkins, Long Lake, Minnetonka, Minnetonka Beach, northern Mound, Orono, Shorewood, Spring Park, Tonka Bay, Wayzata and Woodland.

January 2017


Jan Callison
6th District

Allyson Sellwood
Policy Aide

Christine Hoyles
Administrative Assistant


The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners consists of one commissioner from each of seven districts. I am proud to represent Deephaven, north Eden Prairie, Edina, Excelsior, Greenwood, Hopkins, Long Lake, Minnetonka, Minnetonka Beach, northern Mound, Orono, Shorewood, Spring Park, Tonka Bay, Wayzata and Woodland.

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Callison 2013 district map


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Southwest light rail

Understanding your property tax

MnDOT closing Highway 169 on January 10

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) will begin work on Highway 169 in January.  As a result, MnDOT plans to close Highway 169 between Bren Road and 7th Street on January 10.

The detours use Highway 62, Highway 100, Interstate 394 and Interstate 494.

More information is available about the Highway 169 project on MnDOT's project website.

Hennepin County Transportation anticipates that there may be some increased traffic - particularly as people adjust to the closure and detours - on some county roads, namely Excelsior Boulevard (County Road 3), Shady Oak Road (County Road 61) and Gleason Road/Vernon Avenue (County Road 158).

The county's traffic staff will be monitoring traffic on these roads for potential temporary adjustments, such as changes in traffic signal timing.

If you have feedback about traffic on the county roads listed above, you can contact Transportation Dispatch at 612-596-0299.  The dispatch staff will share your comments with our traffic staff.

Business recycling grantee Sun Country Airlines starts organics recycling on airplanes

Sun Country

Sun Country Airlines recently started organics recycling on their airplanes with the help of a Hennepin County business recycling grant. Materials including coffee grounds, cups, napkins and leftover food are collected for composting.

This effort is part of the airlines’ broader Soaring to Sustainability initiative that aims to reduce their footprint and conserve natural resources. Sun Country also used part of their $24,600 grant to improve recycling on their airplanes and in their office buildings located at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Grant funding covered the costs for a startup supply of compostable bags, organics and recycling bins, and the first three months of organics recycling hauling.

Hennepin County accepts applications from smaller business recycling grants anytime, and the next deadline for larger grants is February 15, 2017. Learn more.

For more information, contact Andre Xiong at andre.x.xiong@hennepin.us or 612-543-1316.

Hennepin County elections manager saw no technical glitches in a record-setting 2016

Reprinted from the Star Tribune, Kelly Smith December 15, 2016

Election 2016 is barely in the books, and Ginny Gelms is already preparing for the next one.

Gelms, who manages Hennepin County’s elections, is planning for local elections next year and the 2020 presidential contest, getting nary a break after this year’s record-setting election.

Hennepin County, with more registered voters than any other county in Minnesota, had a record number of absentee ballots and preregistered voters this year.

The county also saw a slight uptick in turnout, with 685,000 people voting — the most in county history.

“I’m glad it’s over,” Gelms said. “I’m proud of our county.”

The presidential election brought with it new technology, with the county introducing electronic poll books to check in voters in all suburbs. The county was one of only two in the state to ditch paper rosters for e-poll books; Gelms said there were no major issues with the 1,100 devices.

She’s now starting to roll out 700 devices in Minneapolis for the 2017 election, testing the devices and training staffers.

“They worked really well. … It made the experience of checking in voters much easier,” she said.

County commissioners had raised questions about the possibility of hacking, especially with the new e-poll books. The county had the U.S. Department of Homeland Security scan the county’s networks, and no evidence of hacking was found, Gelms said.

This was the first presidential election in which voters could preregister online, which made the process easier, she said.

Besides Gelms and seven full-time elections staffers, the office added its highest number of temporary workers — 80 people — as well as recruited other county staffers and University of Minnesota students to process ballots. The office took over an entire floor of a county building to sort ballots, with 150 people working each day.

Thirty percent of the ballots cast in Hennepin County were absentee this year, the first presidential election in which Minnesotans could cast absentee ballots without needing to cite a specific reason for not going to the polls. More people cast absentee ballots in person instead of mailing them in, Gelms said, with some voters waiting in line for up to two hours — longer than if they had gone on Election Day.

That’s why the county also plans to provide more staffing earlier in the election season to better handle the large number of absentee voters.

“People want to choose when they vote,” she said. “I think this trend will continue … and it could get even bigger.”

While the county ended up with 74.3 percent voter turnout among voter-age residents — the same percentage as turned out in 2012 — the number of preregistered voters and Election Day voters reached 82 percent turnout. The 685,000 voters recorded this year tops 2012’s 682,000 voters.

“It went really smoothly,” Gelms said of the process.

Now, after a week of vacation, she’s back to preparing for legislative changes, the 2017 election and a possible special election if U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison wins the chairman job at the Democratic National Committee and leaves his House seat.

Some final numbers:

• 759,000 voters preregistered, breaking 2008’s mark of nearly 723,000 preregistered voters.

• 203,402 absentee ballots accepted, surpassing 2008’s record of 85,000 ballots.

• 1 recount that took 10 hours on Nov. 19 for state Senate District 44. It confirmed Republican Paul Anderson’s victory over DFL candidate Deb Calvert by 201 votes out of more than 53,000 votes.

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I hope you are enjoying my electronic newsletters, and find them interesting and informative about county activities. In addition to my monthly newsletter, the county sends various newsletters and notifications available by email or text message. To explore the many opportunities to subscribe or to change your preferences, visit the subscription webpage.

Please feel free to send me your comments through my feedback form on issues that concern you or you would like covered. I value your opinions.

Warm regards,

Jan Callison

Board meetings

December 13, 2016

Board approves 2017 budget

The Hennepin County Board approved the county’s 2017 budget of $1.9 billion, $14 million less than the 2016 adjusted budget. The budget includes a net property tax levy of $759.4 million, an increase of 4.49 percent over the 2016 final net property tax levy. 

The 2017 budget supports some of the county’s most vulnerable residents, by strengthening early interventions and promoting self-sufficiency. 

Priorities include:  

  • Child well-being, working to identify at-risk families earlier and providing practical supports to address the root causes of abuse and neglect
  • Hennepin Health, providing a holistic approach to health care for some of the county’s most vulnerable residents, including not only preventive physical and behavioral health care, but connections to social services to help them access shelter and employment
  • Hennepin Housing Fund, funding development and preservation of affordable housing for very low-income adults and families
  • Hennepin County Career Connections, providing training and public/private-sector career paths for people who face barriers to employment 
  • Transit and transportation, supporting the long-term value of neighborhoods and communities through strategic public investments in infrastructure that improves mobility and safety and connects people to jobs
  • Adult detention Initiative, providing alternatives to jail for low-risk offenders who do not need to be detained, but who may benefit from behavioral health services, or who could be supervised using a variety of detention and processing strategies  

The budget adoption follows more than six months of budget preparation and hearings focused on the county’s continued commitment to help residents to be healthy, protected and safe, self-reliant, assured due process and mobile. 

The budget also demonstrates a commitment to solid fiscal priorities and responsibilities that are reflected by more than three decades of AAA bond ratings. 

2017 Youth Sports Grants awarded


The board awarded the 2017 Hennepin Youth Sports Grants totaling $1.8 million for 14 sports facility projects in Hennepin County and an additional $125,000 in for 21 small equipment projects.

Cities, schools and parks received funding for an array of projects, such as athletic fields and courts, ski areas, a gym floor and a skate park. Equipment projects include nets, bleachers, lighting and utility vehicles for use at athletic fields.

District 6 projects include:

  • Deephaven, Thorpe Park - $143,000
  • Minnetonka, Lionsgate Academy - $94,000
  • Minnetonka, Civic Center Park - $90,000
  • Eden Prairie High School JV Field - $1,333
  • Hopkins High School - $2,565
  • Orono, Bederwood & Hackberry, Lee Carlson & Zack Erlander Fielders - $8,770

Since the program began in 2009, the county has awarded $17.6 million to 108 facilities, 200 small equipment projects, five playground projects and a swimming lesson pilot project. During spring 2017, Hennepin County will award additional Youth Sports Grants for playground projects and a second round of equipment grants.

Read more about the Youth Sports Program.

Grant to help families experiencing homelessness


The board accepted a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help 100 Hennepin County families experiencing homelessness transition quickly into permanent, decent and affordable housing.

Last month, HUD awarded the county $883,402 through its new Continuum of Care Program Grant. Hennepin County will match 25 percent of these funds. Families will receive housing placement services, links to integrated, enhanced employment services and continued support to maintain housing. 

Read more about the rapid re-housing program.

Agendas and minutes of action taken by the Hennepin County Board are posted under Hennepin County meetings and agendas. For greater detail on the above agenda items and additional board actions, visit county news releases.

Board briefings

In addition to our regularly scheduled board meetings, the board often meets on Thursday mornings to receive board briefings. These are informal opportunities to discuss emerging issues. No decisions are made. Board briefings occur in the board room on the 24th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center and are open to the public.

December 8, 2016

Adult Detention Initiative (ADI)

ADI is a collaborative effort focused on ensuring that the Hennepin County jail is used appropriately.  It’s based upon the belief that “Individuals who pose a threat to public safety or a high risk to not appear for court should be detained; those who don’t should have alternatives.”  Partners include Community Corrections, the Courts, the Sheriff’s Office, Public Defenders and others.  Among the strategies being examined are:  “alternatives for the mentally ill, encouraging probation compliance to avoid unnecessary arrest and detention orders, alternatives to bench warrants, eliminating unnecessary delays and ensuring that decisions to detail on release are based on the risk of not appearing for court or threat to public safety.”

Human Resources Update

This briefing related to the County’s ability to attract and retain employees and included the results of an independent evaluation of Hennepin County workforce programs.  The overall goal of Hennepin County in this area is “to attract and retain a well-qualified and diverse workforce by creating a comprehensive Total Rewards strategy that communicates the value of working for Hennepin County.”  Strategies being examined relate to culture as well as compensation and benefits.

County calendar

January 3, 2017

Oath of office ceremony

On Tuesday, January 3, 2017 at 1:30 PM the Hennepin County Board will be holding its oath of office swearing in ceremony.  The Commissioners who were re-elected/elected are:

District 1 - Mike Opat

District 5 - Debbie Goettel

District 6 - Jan Callison

District 7 - Jeff Johnson

The swearing in ceremony will take place in the County Board Room in the Government Center.  The 2017 board organizational meeting will follow the swearing in ceremony.

January 20, 2017

Aquatic invasive species prevention grant funding available

Funding is available for projects that prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS). Eligible project activities include enhancing early detection efforts, increasing education, expanding inspections and supporting research.

A few project examples include:

  • The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board used a 2016 Hennepin County AIS grant to create short AIS prevention public service announcements (PSAs) that were aired during their Music and Movies in the Parks series. The PSAs aired at 53 movies with a total attendance of more than 17,800 people. 
  • The Three Rivers Park District used a $30,000 Hennepin County AIS grant to increase watercraft inspections and education by 43 percent at six lakes, including conducting inspections for the first time at Twin Lake and Little Long Lake. More than 6,500 inspections were conducted and 130 contaminated watercraft were found.

See the 2016 accomplishments report for more project examples and an update on the county’s AIS prevention efforts. Applications for 2017 AIS grants are due by January 20, 2017. Learn more and apply.

For more information, contact Tony Brough at tony.brough@hennepin.us or 612-348-4378.

January 30, 2017

Disaster recovery center to help flood victims in Hennepin County

A temporary disaster recovery center to help residents affected by September flooding has opened in Brooklyn Park. The center, operated by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), is located at 8600 Zane Avenue North.

Residents whose homes were damaged as a result of the floods and have home repair expenses that they are not able to meet will find financial help and other services at the center.

Residents may also apply for aid by calling 1-800-621-3362 or visiting www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

The last day to apply for assistance is January 30, 2017. 

Residents applying in person for aid should bring:

  • Social Security number 
  • Address of damaged home or apartment 
  • Description of damage, including pictures, if possible 
  • Insurance coverage information
  • Telephone number 
  • Mailing address 
  • Bank account and routing numbers for direct deposit of funds.

Operating hours:

Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m. 

The center will be closed December 24, 25, 31, 2016 and January 1, 2017. 

2017 State Legislative Platform

The board approved its 2017 legislative platform. These are the priorities the board and county administration will support during the Legislative session.


  • Regional Medical Examiner’s Facility—$25.9 million
  • Bottineau Light Rail Transit/Metro Blue Line Extension—$20 million
  • Access to I-35W from Lake Street—$25 million

Support others:

  • Artspace/Hennepin Center for the Arts—$6 million
  • Cedar Cultural Center—$3 million
  • Local bridge and historic bridge bonding—Support MnDOT’s request for $100 million
  • Local road improvement bonding—Support MnDOT’s Local Road Improvement Program’s (LRIP) request for $100 million

Criminal justice and public safety

Preserve and protect public safety through state funding that covers counties’ costs and state mandates.

  • Increase Community Corrections Act (CCA) funding to ensure adequate state funding for supervision of offenders in the community.
  • Support increased funding to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to meet its obligations for timely processing of drug chemistry evidence.
  • Support legislation and continued funding for offender reentry, including transitional housing, work opportunities and community-based treatment.
  • Support full funding of the state No Wrong Door program to address the identification, recovery and safety of children and young adults who are victims of sexual exploitation.

Data practices

Improve the delivery and coordination of supportive services through the use of data-driven strategies.

  • Support legislation that promotes streamlined service coordination and data sharing across health, education, public safety and human services organizations.

Environment and energy

Protect the environment and conserve resources through responsible management of waste and natural resources and promotion of environmental stewardship.

  • Restore SCORE funding to its original purpose (funding county waste reduction, recycling and composting efforts to meet state solid waste goals) by eliminating the diversion of SCORE revenues to the General Fund.
  • Ensure that Hennepin County receives a fair share of revenues from the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment.
  • Support the efficient, transparent and accountable management of water resources.
  • Support legislation allowing the county to use electricity produced by county facilities.
  • Support legislation and state funding to local jurisdictions within quarantine areas for planning and response to the loss of trees due to invasive pests and pathogens, such as emerald ash borer.
  • Support the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board (SWMCB) 2017 legislative package adopted by SWMCB.

General government

Improve government services delivery, reduce mandates on local government, re-prioritize government spending and promote effective management of county programs.

  • Remove obligations and liabilities created by easements and other encumbrances on properties that, when in tax forfeiture, result in costs to the county or taxpayers.
  • Support improved efficiency of election administration through the use of e-poll books and electronic signature during early voting.
  • Amend state statute to allow local governments to publish official documents electronically.
  • Support renewal of the allocation of Legacy/Arts and Cultural Heritage funding for libraries.
  • Support others’ efforts to modernize investment statutes to allow large local governments to make collateralized investments with the same entities currently authorized for uncollateralized investments.

Hennepin County Medical Center health system 

Ensure access to the full continuum of health care services for all.

  • Support legislation to obtain vital funding that secures the financial vitality of Hennepin County Medical Center, including maximizing existing supplemental and Medicaid payments, creating new supplemental payments and mitigating the impact of revenue assessments on supplemental payments.
  • Support comprehensive reform of the state’s mental health system to ensure patients receive the appropriate level of care and to improve patient outcomes.
  • Target increased payments to safety-net hospitals with the largest uncompensated and undercompensated care burden; including the establishment of a Medicaid payment enhancement that accounts for the patients’ social determinants of health.
  • Support Medicaid care delivery reform demonstration projects that benefit patients seen by safety-net providers, including the creation of care models that integrate primary care and addiction medicine and dental care.
  • Support funding and development of policies that encourage the state’s adoption of best practices in health disparities reduction and health equity.
  • Create a mechanism to reduce the burden of uncompensated and undercompensated care created by changes to Emergency Medical Assistance (EMA).
  • Maintain or increase current state investment in medical education and health care workforce development funding for HCMC.

Health and human services

Ensure that health systems work to improve outcomes for all residents, especially the most vulnerable.  

Administrative and technical improvements

  • Support funding necessary for the Minnesota Eligibility Technology System (METS) to function properly and reliably, alleviate excessive burdens on county property taxpayers and improve services provided to customers.
  • Support modernization of Minnesota’s state and county computerized systems used for human services and health care eligibility to include simplification efforts.
  • Support reforms to the Minnesota Family Investment Partnership (MFIP) that streamline eligibility determination in ways that align it with other income support programs.

Investment in well-being of our children

  • Substantially invest in and reform early childhood development programs, including basic sliding fee child care, foster care child care, early learning scholarships, Head Start and evidence-based targeted home visiting.
  • Promote child well-being and achieve positive outcomes for county-involved youth by investing in both the child protection system and foster care system.
  • Support school educational stability for foster children and county-involved youth by stabilizing their access to transportation supports when they are placed in settings outside of their original school districts.

Investment in health through mental health and chemical health improvements

  • Support state funding and systems redesign to meet the needs of individuals with mental illness, including supportive housing options and services required for stabilizing individuals in the community.  
  • Support efforts to improve our children and adult systems of chemical health treatment to leverage federal funding and assure timely access to effective care.
  • Support efforts to integrate mental health, chemical health and criminal justice interventions to address the needs of justice-involved persons, to ensure better outcomes for residents and to reduce recidivism.
  • Support legislation that promotes and sustains efforts to develop a comprehensive and integrated model of health and human services delivery to assure access to county health and human services systems.


Leverage limited resources more efficiently and advance stable housing for individuals and families.

  • Support investments that provide greater access to Group Residential Housing (GRH), affordable and permanent housing options for vulnerable or low income persons and families receiving county services. Seek demonstration pilots to test how reforming income disregards and eligibility criteria expands pathways out of poverty and options for long-term stable housing.
  • Maintain funding for homeless prevention, outreach and emergency shelters.
  • Support legislation and administrative reforms that provide a continuum of services and housing, including 24-hour supervised care options for persons with acute and chronic care needs.


Protect state funding for mandated services and assure flexibility to serve our residents without undue reliance on property taxes.

  • Protect essential County Program Aid (CPA) that supports county-mandated services and reduces reliance on property tax.
  • Revise inconsistent state statutes to include the more widely used term “targeted communities” to facilitate quicker restoration of blighted properties.
  • Support alternative tax forfeited lands (TFL) sales methods to promote home ownership and achieve improved outcomes.


Strengthen the long-term value of neighborhoods and communities through strategic public investments in infrastructure.

  • Support a comprehensive transportation package that provides new revenue for roads, bridges and transit.
  • Modify the special distribution of leased vehicle sales tax in the metro area to fairly include Hennepin and Ramsey counties.
  • Oppose any increase in weight or size limits for commercial trucks and other motor vehicles.

Workforce development

Meet future workforce needs and address disparities by connecting well-trained and qualified individuals to high-demand jobs.

  • Increase funding for regional training partnerships among employers, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and community organizations.
  • Seek expansion of and increase flexibility for existing programs to provide more training and employment opportunities to better address the persistent employment disparities.
  • Seek funding to increase vocational training and employment services to clients in correctional programs.
  • Support reforms to the SNAP’s Employment and Training Program that streamline program administration and restructure participation sanctions.

Shelter information

With winter weather in full effect there are many who are in need of shelter.  Please share this information for those who may be in need of shelters or warming places.