Consultant’s help to be sought

• Strategic plan identified as an important step to birth economic development

by Paul Rignell

Contributing Writer

The Sherburne County Board on Feb. 11 will consider a contract with Springsted consultants, of St. Paul, after county staff advised at a board workshop Feb. 5 that a strategic plan should be in place for furthering economic development.

County Assessor and Economic Development Specialist Dan Weber said at the workshop that Springsted could help the county establish a framework in one to two months. He said that a committee should be formed to include two of the commissioners.

“There are some city folks that want to be involved with this as well,” he added.

The county’s estimated cost for Springsted’s consultation would be $8,500 for a smaller-scale version of a project that the St. Paul firm recently handled for larger Washington County, County Administrator Steve Taylor and Weber reported.

Taylor said that through their process, Washington County officials contacted neighboring counties to learn of their strategies while also studying economic and demographic data compiled by a University of Minnesota extension service.

Sherburne County commissioners on Feb. 4 approved resolutions in support of two bills that are expected for debate at the state Capitol this session.

The first resolution calls for comprehensive, statewide transportation funding that would support roads, highways and public transit. Minnesota’s commissioner of transportation has said the state would need $50 billion to cover all needs.

County Commissioner Ewald Petersen said that many state roads are indeed due for repairs and rebuilding.

“To let them deteriorate (further), what’s it going to cost 10 years down the road to get them in any kind of shape?” he asked.

The county board’s second resolution is in support of a plan to allow local governments the discretion of posting some legal notices only on their websites and not paying for publication in designated official newspapers.

The Association of Minnesota Counties is asking all counties to consider similar resolutions, and the AMC will join the League of Minnesota Cities in pushing for the change by re-introducing a bill from last year.

Commissioner Petersen saidcommented Feb. 4 that it appears the Minnesota Newspaper Association has been just as strong in its lobbying.

The county board in early January named the Elk River Star News as Sherburne County’s primary newspaper for publishing notices in 2014.