January 2018 News and Updates from Commissioner Higgins

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linda higgins

January 2018

happy holidays

Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter.

This has been a busy month for the board as we completed our budget for 2018. Hennepin County continues to do good things for our community!

Wishing you a joyous holiday season and a happy and healthy new year!

linda higgins signature

Board adopts 2018 budget

Last week I voted with the Hennepin County Board to approve the county’s 2018 budget of $2.4 billion, $285.7 million more than the 2017 adjusted budget. The budget includes a net property tax levy of $788.6 million, an increase of $29.2 million over the 2017 final net property tax levy. The final property tax levy increase of 3.84 percent is less than the preliminary property tax levy increase of 4.95 percent.

This budget supports some of the county’s most vulnerable residents and remains grounded in the county’s mission to enhance the health, safety and quality of life of residents.

Budget priorities

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.  

Child well-being: working to identify at-risk families earlier and providing practical supports to address the root causes of abuse and neglect. 

Competitive workforce: developing career paths for people who face barriers to employment and providing county employees living wages and competitive benefits to compete with other sectors for talent.  

Hennepin Health: leveraging health and human services to identify and address social determinants of health across our community and improve health and wellness outcomes for county residents.   

Regional medical examiner facility: supporting construction of a larger, improved medical examiner facility to equip staff to handle growing case volumes and help train, recruit and retain the most qualified forensic science professionals. 

Transit and transportation: investing in a sustainable transportation system that ensures residents have access to transit choices while traveling to the places they live, work, learn and more.

The board also approved the Hennepin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority budget of $11.2 million and levy of $8.5 million. Read more.

The board also approved the Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority budget of $109 million and levy of $36 million. Read more.

The budget adoption follows more than six months of budget preparation and hearings. It demonstrates a commitment to solid fiscal priorities and responsibilities reflected by more than three decades of AAA bond ratings.

The Hennepin County Board prioritizes carefully to balance the needs of residents and clients with fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. This year, the board took a hard look at our budget and reduced the property tax levy by more than a percentage point. The county is in a good place because of the growth in jobs, new construction and residents, and a healthy state economy. This budget also takes a strong look at ways to reduce disparities in income, education, employment, housing, health, transportation and justice.

I want to personally thank all of the residents who took time to contact my office to let me know where attention was needed most. I also want to thank the staff of Hennepin County who work so hard to provide excellent services for our residents.

Find out more at hennepin.us/budgets.

Board award $1.9 million for Youth Sports program, reaches $20 million milestone

family at playground

The board awarded $1.9 million of Hennepin County Youth Sports grants, meaning the program has now provided more than $20 million to organizations across the county.

Since it began in 2009, Youth Sports has awarded 21.7 million for 136 facility projects, 260 small equipment projects, 10 playground projects, and water safety lessons. Proceeds from the Twins ballpark sales tax support this program.

The board awarded over $700,000 in grants to several District 2 organizations to improve or expand facilities:

  • Meadowbrook Elementary, Golden Valley 
  • Folwell Park, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board 
  • Wilshire Park Elementary, Saint Anthony-New Brighton Schools
  • Isaacson Park, Golden Valley

The board also awarded small equipment grants to several organizations, including a scoreboard at North High School.  

Learn more about these funding awards.

Learn more about the county's Youth Sports program.

Hennepin provides a little help along the way for youth

Hennepin Plus program

For more than a decade, Hennepin County’s Plus program has worked with local school districts to help at-risk youth reach their educational and career goals.

County-involved youth – which includes homeless, pregnant and parenting teens, and youth in foster care or the juvenile justice system – can get the support they need to graduate high school or earn a GED, attend college, and plan for a career that pays a livable wage.

Support can include:

  • Case coordinators located in the schools
  • Personalized educational plans so students can make up credits and stay on pace to graduate
  • Transportation to school
  • Mental and chemical health services
  • College and career counseling

Read more about the program here

Water Connects Us All exhibit at Hennepin Gallery

Heart of the Beast Hennepin Gallery

A new exhibit at the Hennepin Gallery features puppets from the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater. The narratives are designed to draw the viewer into deeper considerations of their own relationship to water and our best in protecting water. Free. Visit the gallery at 300 S. 6th St., A level, Minneapolis in the tunnel between the Government Center and City Hall.

New veterans’ ID card for those who served

New veterans' ID

The Veterans’ ID Card (VIC) is now available for veterans who served in the armed forces, including the reserve components, and who have a discharge of honorable or general (under honorable conditions). This ID card will provide proof of military service and may be used to obtain promotional discounts and other services that are offered to Veterans without them having to carry their paper DD 214s around with them.

To request a VIC, please visit vets.gov. Veterans who apply for the VIC should receive it within 60 days.

See more on Hennepin County Veterans’ Services.

News you can use from Hennepin County Libraries

Auntie Beverly

Image of Auntie Beverly from YouTube video Kwanzaa Celebration at the MN History Center by Kenna Cottman, https://youtu.be/NcU4ND8OxnQ.

Kwanzaa stories with Auntie Beverly

Wednesday, December 27, 3 to 4 pm

Sumner Library, 611 Van White Memorial Boulevard, Minneapolis

Celebrate Kwanzaa with stories and crafts related to self-determination, or Kujichagulia, with storyteller Auntie Beverly.

Learn more about this Kwanzaa celebration.

'TESTIFY: Americana from Slavery to Today' debuts at Cargill Hall gallery

The Cargill Gallery at Hennepin County Library - Minneapolis Central will host an exhibition of art and artifacts from the Diane and Alan Page Collection. The exhibit opens January 8, and will continue during Super Bowl XII in Minneapolis, until February 6.

Learn more about the Testify exhibit.

Stream or download local music on MnSpin

Hennepin County Library has just launched a new online platform that patrons and music lovers from around the world can use to discover Minnesota music.

Learn more about MnSpin.

Board news

December 12

Board returns crime lab budget amendment for review

The board voted to not proceed with a budget amendment to change the reporting structure for the Hennepin County crime lab, but instead to return the amendment to its author.

Based on previous studies of Hennepin County crime lab governance, county commissioners Marion Greene and Linda Higgins had proposed an amendment in which the Hennepin County crime lab would report to County Administration, rather than the Sheriff's Office.

Greene introduced a motion Tuesday to return the amendment to her. She indicated she plans to bring forward an open and transparent process to look at crime lab governance next year. The motion passed 7-0.

Board approves 2018 budget

On Tuesday, the board voted to approve the county’s 2018 budget of $2.4 billion, $285.7 million more than the 2017 adjusted budget. The budget includes a net property tax levy of $788.6 million, an increase of $29.2 million over the 2017 final net property tax levy. The final property tax levy increase of 3.84 percent is less than the preliminary property tax levy increase of 4.95 percent (see story above). 

Pohlad Family Foundation funding will prevent homelessness

The board accepted a $500,000 grant from the Pohlad Family Foundation to support families and youth at risk of or currently experiencing homelessness. Grant funding will help people at risk of eviction and those requiring homelessness prevention services. Thank you to the Pohlad Family Fouindation!

Renewed resources will improve child well-being

The board accepted $65,000 of funding from Casey Family Programs to advance Hennepin County's child well-being focus. This approach invests early in what children and families need to thrive by prioritizing children’s physical, emotional, social, relational health and development. Thank you to the Casey Family Programs!

Transportation Project Delivery director appointed

The board appointed Carla Stueve as director of Transportation Project Delivery, the department that coordinates design and construction of county transportation projects. Stueve, who will begin her new role January 1, has 22 years of transportation engineering experience, including five years with Hennepin County. 

2018 board meeting calendar established

The board established board and committee meeting dates and times for 2018.

View the calendar.

Board approves 2018 legislative platform

The board approved its 2018 legislative platform, priorities the board and county administration will support during pre-session committee meetings and once the legislature convenes in February.

Priorities include:

  • Regional medical examiner's facility
  • Child protection
  • Mental health 
  • Systems modernization
  • Safety-net health services
  • Housing


Full board meeting agendas, actions and background material may be found at hennepin.us/your-government/leadership/board-meeting-materials.


Linda Higgins
Commissioner, District 2

Tina Sanz
Principal Aide

Beverly Hammond
Administrative Secretary

You can also send comments via my feedback form.



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