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Countywide HiPP group looks for ways cities can work together

Some things just work so well, they might be worth repeating.

Take the Dakota Communications Center in Empire Township. It opened a couple of years ago as a joint project of Dakota County and all of the cities in the county. By all accounts, it's a success story of the county's High Performance Partnerships group.

That's why the cities and county are again looking to the HiPP group for ways to work together. In the coming weeks and months, several focus group and town hall meetings are scheduled to drum up more ideas for partnerships.

Farmington city administrator Peter Herlofsky sits on the HiPP. He's working with other city administrators, county officials and council members from other cities to plan Farmington's future, as well as the futures of neighboring areas.

"The Dakota Communications Center was a home run. It was a successful effort to efficiently manage public safety," Herlofsky said. "Now, with all the cities, we need some singles and doubles."

City officials around the county recognize there are opportunities to share resources in several areas of government. Just what some of those resources might be hasn't been ironed out yet - that's something the HiPP committee hopes to establish.

Focus groups will start meeting in a couple of weeks. They're divided into several meetings, each inviting representatives of specific demographic. For instance, Herlofsky identified several individuals who he felt could represent Farmington, from business owners to residents. Those people have been invited to focus group meetings in Farmington and Apple Valley later this month and in early February.


"We need some cooperative efforts between cities," Herlofsky said.

The HiPP discussion guide encourages participants in the upcoming focus groups to look at several services that are offered in just about every community. There are a number of services that some cities offer that others do not, and there are several other services that perhaps overlap in coverage. Pooling some of the resources offered could allow communities to provide certain services in a more timely, efficient and cost effective way.

Among the partnership opportunities open for discussion are topics like broadband/fiber optic networks, building inspections and code enforcement, elections, general government and administration, juvenile services, cable access television, public safety, leisure activities and transportation planning.

Discussion group members will be asked to give ideas and input, then talk about pros and cons of each topic. The information gathered will help to develop a plan for the future, Herlofsky said.

"Dakota County is one of the most professional, organized, trusting, cooperative counties I've ever worked in. We have 11 professional managers and county administrators working together making Dakota County a better place for everyone," he said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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