Crow Wing County is the fifth county where Peter Herlofsky Jr. has served as the first county administrator.
"You do not know what to expect," Herlofsky said about the position. "Each (county) is unique. ... Success there does not mean success will be here."
Herlofsky's first day as the Crow Wing County administrator was Sept. 25 and, so far, Herlofsky said things are going well.
Since the county has had an administrator on board, one employee contract has been settled and monthly meetings have been initiated with the county department heads and elected officials. At the monthly meetings, policy implementation and personnel issues are discussed, as well as strategic and budgetary planning.
Herlofsky is working to make county purchases on capital outlays more cost efficient.
Herlofsky serves as a representative for the Crow Wing County Board on several committees. The Housing and Redevelopment Authority has funded a significant portion of his salary for him to perform administrative duties for its board.
The county has saved money in legal fees for personnel issues. Herlofsky now deals with the contracts and has about eight more contracts to settle this year.
Short-term goals Herlofsky would like to address this year are the five goals the county board set in January. The goals are dealing with growth, staff development, managing tax-forfeited land, roads and financial planning.
Herlofsky said he also has long-term goals in regard to growth in the county. The county board agreed in a planning session this month that it would like to have a regional comprehensive plan to help deal with growth.
Financial management and looking at space needs for the county are ongoing goals. Herlofsky said the county board will have to look at either remodeling or building. The board will have to weigh these options to determine what would be more cost efficient in the long run, he said.
Taking calls from county residents and employees is a day-to-day duty Herlofsky performs. He said sometimes employees will not know how to deal with a concern so they will ask the county administrator for advice.
Herlofsky said each county he has worked for hired a county administrator for a different reason. Calhoun County in Michigan wanted a county administrator because its financial situation was so bad, it needed to do something. Herlofsky filled the position with this county for seven and a half years and left the job to come to Crow Wing County.
Herlofsky also worked as the Stearns County administrator for five years from 1982-87. Stearns County discussed having the position for a long period of time.
"The business was getting too big and jail overcrowding was an issue," said Herlofsky. "Rice County was in good shape, but needed a lot of loose ends tied up."
He was the county administrator in Rice County from 1979-82. Herlofsky also was the county administrator from 1990-92 in Champaign County in Illinois. He worked at various jobs in Minnesota until 1987. Then he traveled to Yanbu Al-Sinaiyah, Saudi Arabia, to work as a manager.
Herlofsky said not everyone in the counties he has worked for welcomed a county administrator. He said being the first one can create resistance and not many people like change.
"The county board has been very supportive," Herlofsky said of the Crow Wing County Board.
Herlofsky's main function is to serve the county board. He gathers as much information as he can on issues or concerns and then presents it to the board for action. He will sometimes offer recommendations on what the board should do, but said the county board has the full authority to make its own decisions.
"I want the board to discuss the items and ask questions," said Herlofsky. "The more discussion the better."
Herlofsky said the best part of the position in Crow Wing County is that he has the opportunity to live here. He was raised in Minneapolis and has family in the Twin Cities metro area and in the Brainerd lakes area.
"It's been very pleasant to be here and be closer to family," he said. "Working here is an additional benefit."
Living in the lakes area also has allowed Herlofsky to enjoy one of his hobbies -- snowshoeing.
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