County seeks food for thought at ‘New Beginnings Cafe’

By Jeffrey Pieters

If Olmsted County were starting a county government from scratch, what would it look like?

That’s a question county leaders will put to a group of 400 employees and key volunteers in a series of half-day sessions next week.

"We’re not looking for ‘how to save paper clips,’" said County Administrator Richard Devlin. "We’re looking for fairly significant issues. Many will be long term, and some will take legislation to accomplish. It’s a more systemic type of review."


The sessions are titled the "New Beginnings Cafe" and will take place over parts of four days. Each day is devoted to a different subject area. On Tuesday, it will be health and human services. On Thursday, land development and planning. Criminal justice is the topic on Friday, and internal county services will be covered on April 13.

Employees and members of county advisory commissions have been invited to the meetings, all at the International Event Center. Some public sessions might be scheduled later, Devlin said.

"We’re expecting some interesting ideas," he said. "We expect we’re going to find some things ... that will save us money fairly soon."

Some ideas might not save money but simply provide better services, Devlin said.

Desperate economic times, such as now, are often conducive to making dramatic changes, he said.

"I think the Legislature is ready," Devlin said. "I think the community understands that things are pretty tight and it’s time."

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