Board OKs residential survey accord

Commissioners also accept $14,700 gift to library system

Gazette Photo by Erik Sandin
Washington County Library Partners presented a $14,700 check to buy library books. Attending Tuesday’s presentation were Partners board members Stephanie Shaw, left, Lisa Winkler, County Board Chairman Dennis Hegberg, Partners president Kent Stone, WCL Board Chairman Herb Japs and WCL Director Pat Conley.

A select group of 1,500 Washington County residents will get the opportunity next year to rate how well the county does its business.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners approved a joint powers agreement Tuesday with Dakota, Olmstead and St. Louis counties for an advanced performance analysis survey.

Three hundred randomly selected county residents in each of the five commissioner districts will be mailed a survey next year with questions on residents’ interactions with external county departments and quality-of-life issues in the county.

County Administrator Molly O’Rourke said the $25,000 cost of the survey is paid for with state funds.

Management Analyst Amanda Hollis told commissioners the agreement with the other counties would give Washington County data for comparison.

“It’s a chance to benchmark responses to the other counties’ participation,” she said.

Hollis said Washington County did similar surveys in 2006 and 2008 by telephone, but is changing to mailed surveys this time because more residents are giving up their land phone lines for cell phones.

The surveys ask residents questions on a range of subjects that include quality of snow removal to the conditions of county roads and parks, Hollis said.

She added that the JPA calls for Washington County to act as the fiscal agent for the survey.

“We’ve done this survey for a number of years trying to recognize if we have any shortfalls,” said board Chairman Dennis Hegberg.

“It’s not a wish list or rationale for spending. We use the feedback to make changes,” added Commissioner Bill Pulkrabek.

Hollis said commissioners would get a chance to discuss questions they would like to see on the survey at a workshop before the board votes on the contract Dec. 6.

In other action, commissioners:

  •              Accepted a $14,700 donation to Washington County Library from the Washington County Library Partners foundation.

The money was raised by the foundation’s “2012 in 2012” campaign to purchase 2,012 large-print and children’s books, according to group president Kent Stone.

“The idea is, ‘What do you need’,” he said. “What does the library need to get from a good library to a great library?”

Stone said the fundraising effort was helped by an anonymous $7,000 matching donation.

  •              Learned that the Gateway Corridor Commission selected a bus rapid transit route along Hudson Road parallel to Interstate 94 as the preferred corridor option during a workshop with Washington Public Works planners.

Senior Planner Andy Gitzlaff said the corridor group looked at several different routes before selecting the Hudson Road BRT option. The group’s second option was a light-rail transit line along Hudson Road.

Gitzlaff said the Hudson Road BRT option improves mobility, is cost-effective and could boost economic development along Hudson Road in Woodbury.

“This really showed a clear cut winner. That was the BRT option running along Hudson Road,” he said.

“I think we’re seeing businesses willing to locate along transit corridors. That was a factor,” added Commissioner Lisa Weik.

Gitzlaff said the corridor commission has a 60-day public comment period on the plan before the group brings the plan to the county Regional Rail Authority in January.

“This really sets us up nicely to move into the next phase which is the environmental impact study,” he said.

  •             Learned the county will receive a Metropolitan Council grant to help pay the county’s July purchase of land added to Big Marine Park Reserve.
  •             Commissioners approved the county’s $486,516 purchase of the Croome parcel July 10. The Met Council will reimburse up to $353,996 to the county’s Land and Water Legacy Program funds used to buy the May Township property.