Updates on: Passports, Audit, Veteran Services, Nitrates, Cannabis, Taxes, and, Graham Park

Corn Tower
Corn Tower


5,563 passports were processed by county services in 2022.  7,629 photos were processed.  We will surpass this number by the end of October, 2023.

The U.S. Department of State Passport Services conducts and oversight inspection of the Olmsted County Passport process every two years.  An inspection was completed on September 19.  The inspection ensures that effective and efficient processes are used to avoid the risk of fraud and malfeasance, identify and report systemic trends, and assure that Olmsted is in compliance with Department of State regulations.

Olmsted County (Property) Assessment Services Audited

The Minnesota Department of Revenue conducted an annual audit of Olmsted County Assessment Services.  Suggestions were provided to create additional policies for current procedures.  Olmsted is required to review 20% of properties each year (a five-year cycle for all properties).  In 2022 “out of compliance” parcels were 8%; in 2021 this was 1.1%. Out of compliance means the percentage of parcels not viewed in the last five years.  Olmsted added 2 positions to address this situation.

Veterans Service Office

From 6/12/23 to 9/1/23:

  • 1,051 – the number of calls taken by the Veterans Service Office (VSO)
  • 256 completed appointments with vets or their dependents
  • 51% between the ages of 61-80
  • 22% age 41-60
  • 16% age 21-40
  • 11% age 81+
  • 90% Male

97.1 % felt they were treated with respect in their interactions with the VSO staff’

94% felt that the VSO supported their needs

51% of clients were able to schedule an office appointment within two weeks

80% of clients get their information from the VSO via Office visits and emails.

Olmsted’s Nitrate Reduction Program

Olmsted’s nitrate reduction program is gaining interest from other counties and state officials.  Our Soil and Water Staff is having conversations with Kristi Pursell (DFL – Northfield), Larry Kraft (DFL – Brooklyn Park), Bjorn Olson (R – Fairmont) and people from the Land Stewardship Project.  John Jaschke, the Executive Director of the MN Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR), has requested our staff to make a presentation at one of the upcoming meetings.

Olmsted County funded our Nitrate reduction program with $5million from ARPA funds.  This is used to incentivize farmers to adopt practices practices that reduce the amount of nitrates seep into the groundwater.  I expect that this money will run out in the 2025 growing season.  It is my hope that the State of Minnesota or the Federal Ag program will continue to fund this program so that more acreage can be added to the nitrate reduction program.

Cannabis Ordinance

The county passed its first cannabis ordinance.  The ordinance deals with where one cannot smoke cannabis; it follows the same ordinances of where one cannot smoke tobacco products.  It includes vaping.  Basically, it bans smoking/vaping in all public buildings and spaces.  In private apartments the decisions on smoking is left up to the landlord.

Mental Health Advisory Council

Olmsted is reviving the Mental Health Advisory Council.  Learn more here: https://www.kimt.com/video/olmsted-county-adult-mental-health-advisory-council-meeting/video_c5f02f7a-10a7-5d5d-9f90-3a6654a7d1bc.html

Fairground Grandstand

The grandstand at Graham Park will be torn down.  Its possible reconstruction will be determined by the Graham Park master plan, the market study that will be completed, and discussions with the fair board and County Board members.  If the grandstand is rebuilt, the placement of it would be determined by the overall master plan.  This means that temporary seating will be needed for fair programs in 2024.

New Playground Equipment

The Olmsted County Park Board will purchase new playground equipment for Oxbow and Chesterwood Parks.  Both of these parks see a large number of children.

ZooDazzle at Oxbow

Take your kids to ZooDazzle or just go and enjoy it yourself.  ZooDazzle is returning after the pandemic. You will see Zollman Zoo all lit up with thousands of holiday lights.  There will be treats and activities for the kids.

Friday, December 1 and Saturday, December 2 from 5:00pm to 8:00pm

Lights only (no activities for kids) on December 8 and 9 from 5:00pm to 8:00pm

On December 17 at 1:00 there will be Holiday Crafts.  You can join a naturalist to create a wood cookie.

Disabled Vets Deer Hunt

This year’s Disabled Vets Deer Hunt was very successful.  30 Vets or their dependents attended.  About 30 deer were taken.  This is a program that receives national attention as a service to our area vets.  This event is supported by the County Board, the staff at the Veterans Service Office, the local DAV Association, and many area business, service groups, and individuals who contribute to this event.

Emergency Family Shelter

Olmsted County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA) has purchased a building in SE Rochester that will provide temporary shelter for up to 12 families.  The Property is in the process of being remodeled to accommodate the families, provide for some office space, and to provide laundry, kitchen, and other facilities.  The Shelter will be operated by Family Promise, a non-profit organization.

Proposed Property Taxes for 2024

Olmsted County Property Records and Licensing (PRL) recently sent notices to all property owners in Olmsted County regarding proposed taxes for 2024.  County summary budget information as well as applicable city and school district summary budget information was included in the notice.

For more information on understanding property taxes please visit the County’s website at: https://www.olmstedcounty.gov/residents/land-property/property-taxes/understanding-property-taxes#how-taxesarecalculated1

Learn More about Plans for Graham Park

Here is a video of Commissioner Kiscaden talking about plans for Graham Park: https://www.kttc.com/2023/11/09/touring-graham-park-with-county-commissioner-kiscaden/

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