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Boreal Community Media

Accessing County Services at The Courthouse

Mar 04, 2022 07:52AM ● By Editor

Photo:  Boreal File

By James Joerke, County Administrator from Cook County MN - March 4, 2022

James Joerke, County Administrator. Photo: Cook County MN

County government provides many programs and services that support healthy communities. Road construction and maintenance, public health and human services, public safety and emergency preparedness are just a few of the areas in which counties serve their residents. Minnesotans depend on counties to provide the services that build, maintain, and protect their homes, schools and neighborhoods. Counties are also a critical player in America’s intergovernmental system of federal, state, and local governments.

Services available in the Cook County Courthouse can be broken down into a few major categories:  taxpayer services, land services, court administration, probation, and public health and human services.

Taxpayer services include functions related to purchasing or owning property in Cook County. When you initially purchase property, that purchase is recorded in the Recorder’s Office. If you want to build on the property or need to install a new septic system or make some other improvement to the property, you will need to get a permit from Land Services. All property values and classifications are reviewed annually by the Assessor’s Office, adjustments to value are based off recent market transactions and classification changes are based off the current use of the property. To ensure accurate information, properties are visited by assessing staff every five years, and when building permits have been issued by the county. The office of the Auditor/Treasurer is responsible for collecting tax payments that fund programs and services on which Cook County residents rely.

Court Administration and Probation work closely with the County Attorney’s Office on civil, family, criminal cases. While court administration and probation staff are in the courthouse, court staff are employed by the State of Minnesota Judicial Branch and probation agents are employees of a regional joint powers entity called Arrowhead Regional Corrections (ARC).

Other public services include veterans’ services, GIS services, election administration, emergency management and civil records. The Veterans Service Officer is located on the first floor of the courthouse and serves as an advocate for veterans to the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the MN Department of Veterans Affairs. Help is available to determine eligibility and to aid with paperwork for accessing veterans’ services. 

GIS services including taxpayer and parcel information are primarily available through the county website. GIS data is updated periodically and is used by many county departments to support efficient and accurate access to information about property boundaries and characteristics. 

Local elections are managed by the Auditor’s Office. Local election judges are critical to ensuring fair and accurate results.  Passport application paperwork, notary services and county plat books are also available in the Auditor’s Office.

The Recorder’s Office has access to property records as well as to all Minnesota birth and death records. It can also issue State of Minnesota marriage licenses and provide support to search archives for property, and civil documentation in the county.

Emergency Management is located on the first floor of the courthouse and is housed in the Auditor’s Office. It provides emergency management services, E-911 physical address services and administers the Firewise program.

The Public Health and Human Services department is located on the second floor of the courthouse.  The Public Health and Human Services department works to promote and protect health and wellbeing through a wide range of programs, services and initiatives including health care and economic supports, behavioral health, and services for families and people with disabilities and public health preparedness and response.

Central/internal services provide support for the staff and programs that the county is responsible for. These include IT support, human resource administration, accounting and internal controls and building maintenance to more than one hundred staff and more than 70,000 square feet of buildings throughout the county.

For more detailed information on county services please refer to the county website . Many online services are also available on the website, including property tax payments, land use permit applications, property records searches and applications for assistance programs that provide access outside of regular hours of operation.

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.

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