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Harris will seek another term on county board

He enjoys doing it; he still has the high interest in Dakota County government; and he enjoys working with other officials and his constituents.

Joseph Harris, who represents Farmington on the Dakota County Board of Commissioners, made it official last week. He will seek another four-year term this fall.

Harris has served on the board for 28 years.

"It's been a good ride, for the most part," Harris said. "I still have an interest in Dakota County and providing services to its taxpayers."

He truly believes in the county's motto.

"Dakota County is a premier place to live," he said. "And I want to continue to be part of it.

Dakota County government is financially strong -- we have the lowest tax rate of any of the other metro counties," he said. "I'm very proud of that."

However, Harris stressed, the county is not cheap in its approach to providing services.

"We provide quality programs," Harris said. "We have achieved state and national recognition for our libraries, our parks, environmental programs."

At one time, the county was the fastest growing in the state. While that growth has slowed, there is still steady growth, and Harris said the county continues to work to resolve transportation, social services and courts issues. All have experienced growth.

There have been major successes through the years, he said.

The job has gotten done and that always hasn't been easy, due to federal and state program mandates, but with little or funding for the mandates.

"We're required to do the job, but often the money doesn't follow," Harris said. "But we continue to provide quality programs for the lowest tax rate."

Throughout the past 20-plus years, Dakota County has invested heavily in technology. It has been a very wise investment, according to Harris.

"It has saved us millions in salary costs," he said. "If you look at our salary ratio, I think you'll notice ours is the lowest among the rest of the metro counties."

The county has planned well to keep up with the growth. It is planning well for the future, too, said Harris.

We have long-range planning in all areas of our services," he said. "We have looked to the future for five, 10 and 15 years and more. We have been able to flatten our budgets.

Harris' district is the largest geographically of all seven commissioner districts, taking in most of the southern rural area of the county. He has enjoyed working with the township officials and other citizens in the past 28 years.

"Dakota County has been very supportive of the rural townships and been very supportive in working with their issues," Harris said. "Working with the townships would be among my top 10 of what I've enjoyed in the past years."

The new transportation bill will help Dakota County roads and bridges as the county continues to deal with its growth issues in the coming years.

The transportation bill will provide a tremendous amount more in transportation services to the residents of the county," he said. "We were starting to fall behind."

With the completion of the Rosemount library this year, every major city in the county will have a library. The parks system is given high marks by residents and the county's collaboration with the Community Development Agency is providing affordable senior and family housing.

The county's triple "A" bond rating means it can obtain its buildings bonds at better interest rates and save the taxpayers money.

As he looked to the future, Harris said a main issue facing this county and other counties throughout the state, is having to provide "more and more programs because of the mandates and the money doesn't come."

The county is already facing another $1 million in civil commitments for convicted sexual offenders, and has faced additional boarding costs for short-term offenders in the Dakota County Jail.

But he remains confident as he praises the efforts of the county administration and its staff.

"It really has been a good ride," he said, "And I'm looking forward to serving another four years."