By Bobbie Harder
Sibley County Commissioner
March is the month for the annual township meetings. Thank you to everyone who attended and provided feedback on a variety of issues which affect all of us. At the meetings, information shared included the buffer law, Sibley County’s five-year road and bridge plan, and the county’s revenue and expenses for 2016.
Over the past several weeks, I have received input on a number of topics such as the creation of a community development coordinator, Santa’s Helpers, drainage, road projects, DNR and delinquent taxes, the county jail, and the articles I write to share information regarding the district.
The topic of creating a new position in the county has stirred many residents wondering why this is needed. Many people have voiced there must be current positions in the county who have the capacity to take on the functions listed in the job description. Some people feel Sibley County doesn’t have the tax base to support the expansion of county government.
With Santa’s Helpers, many residents are questioning as to why tax dollars continue to be used in this way. Funds used for the purchase of gifts are donated. Tax dollars are used when an employee’s time is utilized to purchase, wrap, and deliver the gifts.
In 2016, the county spent nearly $14,500 for staff time. This program has been in existence for several decades and the cost to all of us continues to rise. If Santa’s Helpers is truly needed in the county, then options where tax dollars are not used needs to be looked at. Options may include looking for another agency to complete the project or employees can continue the project on a total volunteer basis.
Work continues to address the drainage issues we face in the district. The county is giving thought to developing a sediment control plan. The plan will look at areas in the county where either ponds, structures, or some other mechanism may be used to assist in slowing the movement of water to our area. This may help the erosion and the sediment build-up in many of the culverts along Scenic Byway 6 and other areas of the county.
Have you heard of the leadership program which is being developed in the county?  The official name is Leading Sibley Together. The program is designed to bring county residents together to build a common commitment to the future vitality of the area.
The program builds a network of people from both public and private entities which will lead initiatives to address local issues. There will be one-day sessions at locations around the county where participants will spend half a day in a classroom setting learning about topics such as dealing with change, rural migration, or ethical leadership. The second half of the day will be spent doing site visits within the community. Goals of the leadership program are to develop new leaders, volunteers, bridge communities, and network to promote Sibley County.
If you would like any of the information presented at the township meetings, please contact me and I would be happy to share the information. If you need assistance, please call me at home, 507-665-3642, cell 507-479-3250, or by e-mail at BobbieH@co.sibley.mn.us