Commissioner Q&A: Incumbent Gabrielson seeks to help support job growthPublished 3:22pm Thursday, August 9, 2012
Commissioner Q&A: Tim Gabrielson, Running for Commissioner District 1, incumbent
A. I am a small business owner and understand how to better integrate or merge how government and small businesses run. I have spent the last 5 1/2 years listening and learning what a county commissioner has to do to make county government work efficiently. I have been on many boards and committee’s assisting with clean water programs, soil conservation, 4-H extension, SEMCAC, the Siebel Center and working with individual townships to help them with problems as they arise. I work my schedule so I am available to accommodate these responsibilities. I look for solutions that are important to the citizens of Mower County.
Q. What would be your main goals if elected?
A. I will work hard to bring well paying jobs into the county by looking for companies that would bring well paying jobs to Mower County. I will continue to work on the Health and Human Services Redesign study. We’ve been working on this since mid 2009 and we are making headway on this huge plan to cut the extremely expensive costs to the counties that we cannot sustain. Complete the remodel of the jail and courtrooms in our Court House as soon as possible so we can efficiently move our Health and Human Services Dept’s in the courthouse for both safety and costs. Presently that staff is housed in a rented space that is costing the County more dollars than having them in the Courthouse, and it will be easier access for our citizens.
Q. The county recently learned it will receive about $400,000 less in County Program Aid from the state in 2013. What kind of specific cuts or changes would you support to address this and other state aid shifts? What do you consider too important to cut?
A. This is a problem that has been anticipated and is just one of the reasons we have been working on the merging of Health and Human Services into one department. We also merged Environmental Services and the Highway Department into one called Public Works. This has all been done this year to try to save taxpayers’ dollars. In my short 4 years as your commissioner we have made many cuts. Simply put, we have to control spending without cutting essential services. Freezing wages, hiring, and furloughing staff to help reduce government spending are all options that must be available and discussed. “We all must help out for the good of our county.”
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 433-2598 with your suggestions or concerns
Q. The county is one of the six remaining in the once 12-county Southeast Minnesota Human Services Redesign project. The project would lead to merging human services in the remaining counties, which previous studies said could result in staffing reductions. Would you support the merger, and how would you handle the potential effects to staff? And how would you expect the merger to affect taxpayers?
A. Yes we are still studying and trying to find a viable solution to streamline this department that makes up about 1/3 of our County Budget. Part of the reason we are still working on this, is to save our valued employees, yet still provide needed services. The 12 county redesign we have found would actually cost more money in the long run, and the main winner would be Olmsted County. That is why we are looking to work with counties similar in size and values as Mower, that should save Mower tax dollars. What many don’t realize is that if we do not find a viable solution to this and do not supply the mandated services as required by law, the State will step in and merge us and other small counties together, for example to Olmsted County who will take over and charge us their costs which are much higher than we are paying now. It would also eliminate some Mower County employees, who would be replaced with Olmsted County employees. This is absolutely not what I want for Mower County. It also would affect those who need the services we provide at our own Human Services Department right here in Austin. We have all heard of out sourcing this would not be good for Mower County citizens.
Q. A structural engineer recently deemed the grandstand at the Mower County Fair unsafe for use. Would you support fixing the grandstand, rebuilding the grandstand or continuing to rent temporary bleachers? Rebuilding or repairing the grandstand could cost more than $500,000. Renting bleachers each year would cost $7,000 to $10,000 a year.
A. Renting is the only thing to do at this time. We will study our options. Spending half a million dollars when there are other options, in this economy, would be a waste of the taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.