Updates on: court backlog, residential survey results, saving money, and senior housing!


Backlog of Court Cases

The pandemic was responsible for creating a backlog of court cases; however, the County Attorney’s Office is reducing the back log.  In November 2021 the total number of cases backlogged was 704.  By July, 2022 the backlog has been reduced to 422.  The County Attorney, Mark Ostrom, reported that the attorneys and staff is pushing to get back to Pre-Covid numbers while insuring that guilty parties receive sentences.  “We make sure that no one who is accused of a crime gets a free ride” just because the courts are backlogged.  The County Attorney also reported that his office is applying mandatory sentencing on gun violence charges and working with the courts to restore respect and civility in the schools.

I support the County Attorney’s office in their efforts to make Olmsted safe.

Efficient Use of Space Saves Millions

The addition of a District Judge has required the County to build on the fourth floor of the Government Center, an additional Courtroom for criminal cases.  The addition of a court room required staff who work in the court and justice system to be relocated.  The relocation has eliminated many offices in exchange for open computer stations.  This has created a more efficient use of space (greatly reducing the cost of building/remodeling) while maintaining work efficiency.

I support the county’s effort to use its space efficiently.  Pre-covid it was projected that the county would need $40,000,000 to build enough space for staff and programs.  However, with the application of innovations in work space usage and staffing, the county has been able to utilize the current space more efficiently which has saved the cost of a new building.

$11,300,000 Senior Housing Application

A financing application to Minnesota Housing for low-income senior housing was submitted on July 14.  The $11.3 million, three story building will have 36 units.  Eighteen of the units will be for seniors at or below the 50% Area Median Income (AMI) and eighteen units will be for seniors at or below 30% AMI.  (The Area Median Income for Olmsted County is $23,000.)  The application is possible because of the collaboration of many partner agencies including the Coalition for Rochester Area Housing, Olmsted County HRA, and the city of Rochester.  I supported selling county owned land (valued at $400,000) to the Olmsted County Housing and Rehabilitation Authority for $1.00 (one dollar) to make it possible to build low-income senior housing.

Olmsted County Residential Survey Highlights

Residents rated Olmsted County’s Quality of Life higher than the national benchmark for other counties

  • In response to the question to identify the one thing that residents liked most about living in Olmsted the most frequent answer was, Quality of Life (38%) followed by location (15%), rural small town feel (11%) and their neighborhood (10%).
  • Olmsted also received high ratings as a place to raise a family, a place to work, and a place to live.
  • Residents responded that they felt safe in their neighborhood and least safe on roads due to distracted or drunk drivers
  • About 40% of the responders said Olmsted is doing an excellent job and about 45% rated Olmsted as doing a fair job.
  • Responders who had contact with a county employee or official gave high scores to their interaction.  Characteristics such as employee’s knowledge and courteousness received rating between Excellent and Good which is higher when compared to scores of other counties.
  • Area of concern included housing, taxes, child care, receiving county information, people’s attitude toward diverse people.

The Survey was done with the help of Polco/National Research center.  4,400 randomly selected households were sent the survey in January.  842 were returned providing a response rate of 20% and a margin of error of +/- 3.4%.  The same survey has been conducted since 2008.

Use this link to view the entire survey:  https://www.olmstedcounty.gov/sites/default/files/2022-07/OlmstedCountyResidentSurvey2022.pdf

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