August 2019 E-Newsletter

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Jan Callison - News from District 6


  August 2019


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

In this edition

Board meetings

July 9, 2019

Changes to tobacco sales ordinance 

The board voted to amend Hennepin County's tobacco sales ordinance, with the goal of protecting young people from the health effects associated with tobacco use.

Affected communities

Changes will affect areas where Hennepin County is responsible for licensing and regulating retail tobacco sales. These areas include: Greenfield, Mound, Rockford, St. Bonifacius, and the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

Changes include

  • Raising minimum legal sales age for tobacco products from 18 to 21
  • Restricting sale of flavored tobacco products to adult-only tobacco stores
  • Prohibiting sale of cigars costing less than $3 each

This is following a public engagement process and public hearing hosted June 11.

Learn more about the ordinance


Watershed district levies


The board approved watershed plan amendments and set maximum 2020 levies as requested by the following watershed management commissions. Levies raise funds for water quality improvement projects in the watersheds.

July 30, 2019

Wheelage tax increase to maintain county roads and bridges

The board voted 4 in favor and 2 against (Callison and Opat) to increase the wheelage tax in Hennepin County to $20 per year per vehicle, effective January 1, 2020.

The wheelage tax applies to vehicles registered at a Hennepin County address. Hennepin County has had a $10 wheelage tax since 2014.

The increase will generate about $10 million in additional revenue annually to help fund reconstruction and maintenance within the county road and bridge system, which includes 2,200 lane miles and 148 bridges.

12 other Minnesota counties also have a $20 wheelage tax including Ramsey, Carver and Washington in the metro.

Improving accessibility of sidewalks

The board awarded nearly $1 million for construction of 41 pedestrian ramps, also called curb ramps, and revisions to eight traffic control systems.

Improvements will be made along roadways in the following cities: Bloomington, Crystal, Eden Prairie, Hopkins, Minneapolis, Robbinsdale, St. Louis Park.

These improvements, which meet guidelines for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), will make sidewalks more accessible to people with disabilities.

Learn more about how Hennepin County is working to make sidewalks accessible.

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 votes are taken. Board briefings occur in the board room on the 24th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center and are open to the public.

July 18, 2019

Hennepin County's adult mental health system review

In January, the board directed staff to complete a report on the mental health current system to improve community stability.  This briefing saw staff review the report, and discuss findings and recommendations. 

Hennepin County has an adult population of 976,579.  Based on national statistics, about 25,000 adults will develop a serious and persistent mental illness that includes hospitalization. 

Hennepin County is involved in the mental health system through case management, mental health for justice involved, emergency mental health, the mental health center, supported employment, and NorthPoint Health & Wellness Center. A cost breakdown of the Human Services Public Health Division's adult mental health services saw the county spend $52 million in 2018.  Of that amount, $34,300,000 was paid through property tax dollars.  This is a significant investment.

Staff presented four findings.  Finding one: Positive program outcomes.  Operated case management reduced emergency room visits by 56% and inpatient hospitalizations by 36%, 75% of people who participate in supported employment maintain employment for at least one year, and the Integrated Access Team has shown to reduce rebooking for people who participate by 48%.  Finding two: System imbalance.  The system relies heavily on jails, local hospitals, and state hospitals instead of addressing the underlying root causes early on.  Finding three: System bottlenecks are supportive housing, assertive community treatment, hospitals, intensive residential treatment services, and regional treatment centers.  Finding four: Overall system inequity.  A few findings include: individuals with mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than people without mental illness, emergency departments show a 49% increase in mental health visits, and people living with mental illness are 4x more likely to be arrested for minor crimes.

Staff recommendations include early intervention, innovation for complex needs, and policy reform.  In December of this year the board with receive a strategic plan to address these recommendations.

County calendar

August 15, 2019

Volunteers sought for vacancies on Nine Mile Creek Watershed District Board


The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners is seeking applicants for two vacancies on the Nine Mile Creek Watershed District Board. This board coordinates the management of water and related land resources in the watershed.

Apply by August 15 at

August 20, 2019

Public hearing: affordable housing in Marcy-Holmes neighborhood

In June, the board gave preliminary approval to issue housing revenue bonds for rehab of 54 units of affordable rental housing in the 100 block of Fifth Street Southeast in Minneapolis. A public hearing will be hosted on this topic.

When:  August 20
            1:30 pm

Where: Hennepin County Government Center board room 
             300 South Sixth Street, Minneapolis

August 28, 2019

Read + Ride Day at the Minnesota State Fair

Read and ride

Bring your library card and present it at a State Fair gate for discounted admission.

When: Wednesday, August 28.

Event: Stop by Dan Patch Park 9 a.m.-5 p.m. for stage shows and family fun.

View details on the day’s activities and events at


Solid Waste management fee increase

A number of residents have asked about the increase to our solid waste management fee (Ordinance 15) that we passed last year.  Here is some background on the fee as well as the process by which it was passed.

The solid waste management fee funds environmental programs pursuant to State mandates governing waste management programs.  In Hennepin's case, it funds the county's core recycling and environmental programs.  Some of our popular programs include drop-off facilities, hazardous waste collection events, and school and business recycling grants.  The fee is collected via your trash bill.

Hennepin County has not raised its solid waste management fee since 1994.  The county raised the fee in 2018 in order to make up for the loss of $8 million in electrical revenue from the county's Power Purchase Agreement with Xcel Energy. This revenue was lost when the MN Pollution Control Agency failed to approve a negotiated agreement between the County and Xcel.

The fee is only collected on garbage, not recycling or organics.  Staff is estimating a $12 per year increase per household, an $84 per year increase per small business, and a $1,764 per year increase per large business. 

For some additional background, if you compare Hennepin County to Ramsey and Washington Counties, this is what the fee looks like:

Percent rate comparison
                  Hennepin      Ramsey        Washington
Resident    15.5%           28%              35%
Business    21.5%           53%              35%

Estimated solid waste fees per year comparison
                           Hennepin     Ramsey        Washington
Resident              $28               $50               $63
Small business    $258            $636             $420
Large business    $5,418         $13,356       $8,820

Public hearings were a part of the budget process so that Commissioners had an opportunity to hear from residents.  After the fee was approved, staff provided a 3 month notice to cities for the implementation of this fee. 

Hennepin County is proud of the services that we provide, and the estimated $12 increase per household will continue to allow it to provide these high quality services that are well utilized by county residents.

More information on Ordinance 15 can be found here  

Eden Prairie Library construction update

EP Library

Interior framing and site work are underway this summer at Eden Prairie Library. Learn more about the renovation at

Number of families in Hennepin County shelter continues to decline


Click image or visit and check out the Data and Research drawer. 

Hennepin County used a framework from the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH) to measure the health of Hennepin County funded family shelter.  What was found is that shelter stays are becoming rarer and nonrecurring but not necessarily briefer. 

From June of 2013 to June of 2019, there has been a 46% decrease in distinct families accessing shelter, the length of stay in shelter has increased to a median number of days of 25, but there has been a decrease in the number of families that are returning to shelter. 

Visit for more information.

Grow your business with technical support programs


Hennepin County offers technical assistance and business support through multiple programs.

CEO Next Business Institute—now accepting applications

The program helps second-stage companies through advanced business and market research, peer and cohort learning, and expert forums. Privately held businesses that have between 10 and 99 employees, and $1 million -$50 million in revenue are eligible.

Apply online by September 30.

Open to Business 

Entrepreneurs can access technical assistance, including business plan development, feasibility studies, marketing, loan request preparation, finance projections and much more.

Watch how the program has helped past participants succeed (2:14).

Visit the program's website.

Wayzata Boulevard reconstruction update

Wayzata Blvd

The second phase of the Wayzata Boulevard (County Road 112) reconstruction is expected to be substantially completed this week.  Final paving was completed in late July.  Crews have been working on final striping and finishing up placing sod or seeding along boulevards.  Crews are also completing final clean-up and task items.  These remaining items should have little to no traffic impacts. 

As always, for your safety and the safety of our crews, please continue to obey all posted speed limits, stay alert and slow down where crews are working.  Thank you for your continued patience and cooperation as we wrap up reconstruction.

An update will be sent out to those on the update email list when the project is completed. 

To find out more about the project or to sign up for updates visit

Hands-Free law effective today

Minnesota's new hands-free law goes into effect today.  Under the new law, drivers are allowed to use their cell phones to make calls, text, listen to audio and/or get directions only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone.  While driving, phones may NOT be held in the driver’s hand. Watching videos, video calling, Snapchat, gaming and similar activities on a cell phone are prohibited at all times while driving.

Critical information on Minnesota’s hands-free law:

  • The penalty for the first hands-free violation is $50 plus court fees. Additional tickets are $275 plus court fees.
  • Hand-held phone use is allowed to obtain emergency assistance when there is an immediate threat to life or safety.
  • Tucking a cell phone into a headscarf or head wrap does not violate the hands-free law. However, removing the phone and holding it does violate the law.
  • Smart watches, tablets, e-readers and similar devices are subject to the same restrictions as cell phones.
  • In 12 states that have instituted hands-free laws, traffic fatalities have decreased by an average of 15 percent.

More information on Minnesota’s new hands-free law can be found at the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety.

About District 6

District 6 map

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.

County information

Jan Callison
6th District

Allyson Sellwood
Policy Aide

Bill Fellman
Administrative assistant/scheduling

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