Hennepin County board chair: I’ve been focusing on property taxes and bed capacity

The Southwest Journal is documenting the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. As the outbreak evolves, we will be checking in with the participants regularly. Read all of the stories here.

All interviews are conducted over the phone, and conversations are edited for length and clarity.

Marion Greene, Hennepin County board chair

This last week was a perfect example of really focusing on two things. One was property taxes because the due date is May 15 and we wanted to provide a delay, a reprieve or something for property tax payers. The second thing I was focused on was shelter and how we can expand our bed capacity quickly. 

I think our shelter partners are amazing. It’s been tough for each of those organizations to keep their staff on. Everybody’s very nervous and fearful and so having that staffing stability has been their big hurdle in the past couple weeks.  

On property taxes, the county would really like to see a statewide approach that protects people from being the good guy or the bad guy. Short of a statewide approach, we’ve been working to have a regional approach so the seven-county Metro has a regional response. What we’re finding there, too, is nobody is the boss, so nobody can say, “Look, this is how this is.” So what’s going to end up happening is Hennepin County, as the biggest county in the state by far, will end up signaling by communicating today what we anticipate doing. It will be up for discussion at tomorrow’s committee meeting, so we’ll see. 

A third topic I’ve been thinking about is: What is in place to support folks who are undocumented? I really want to give a shout out to the mayor and City Council of Minneapolis because they’ve really stepped up and zeroed-in on how they can support the community members and make money flexible enough to reach folks who are not reached by the federal dollars. Hennepin County, when we’re spending our own money, we don’t ask questions about documentation, so it’s just a matter of federal dollars. In general, some dollars are more flexible than others.

I would say there is routine in my schedule. The routine contains really long days. There’s less hecticness and it’s more the work is in front of us and we need to do the work. A lot of it involves conversations with a lot of people.

My family does celebrate Easter. My husband and I, on our own, did not plan anything special for Easter. We did have a lot of family conference calls, with different branches of the family and that was really nice. I have to admit that I sort of started the weekend thinking we’re not doing a special meal ourselves, so there isn’t going to be much to this. But by the end of Sunday I was really glad for the many conversations. 

Last week there was a lot of machinating on the property tax question, and this week it’s a matter of nailing it down. This week I also want to connect with leaders of some of the big nonprofits that Hennepin County partners with to just check in. Our partners are doing so much at this time as well. We want to stay in touch and be supportive.


VOICES FROM THE PANDEMIC

 You can read all of the stories here.