In a rural community, the role of government often involves people you bump into in the grocery store or gas station; the names and faces are people who know their constituents at the most basic, real-world level.
What is government?
That, said local public officials, is a broad term that covers many facets of life.
What is the role of government?
That, too, is a broad topic that really depends on the unit involved.
At the local level, when one thinks of government and the role it plays, typically that thought process involves people, such as mayors or chairpersons.
To that end, local government officials, including Gary Revier, Redwood Falls’ mayor, and Priscilla Klabunde, chair of the Redwood County Board of Commissioners recently talked about what they believe government entails and shared their vision for the next year for the city and county.
“The role of government is to do for the community at large those things it can’t do on their own,” said Revier.
That might include keeping streets maintained, offering law enforcement services or even looking at the big picture in terms of where a government entity goes into the future.
For Klabunde, the role of government is to ensure policies and plans are in place that provide those basic services the public requires and to do that in the most cost effective manner.
Whether it is providing for health needs of the public or implementing state mandates, the role of government is to be intentional in the decisions that are made to make sure goals that are set have measurable achievable outcomes.
For Klabunde, the vision for 2013 is to create an environment that allows for more collaborative efforts.
“We really want to explore how we can work with other local government units to create efficiencies,” Klabunde said.
She referenced the Southwest Health and Human Services project the county has entered as an example of how the county believes it can move beyond map borders to work together with others who are similar.
She also said this year more of that kind of effort is going to continue as the county moves ahead with its recycling facility project with Renville County.
It is not collaboration for the sake of collaboration, she said, adding the idea is to best serve the public and to do it while being fiscally responsible.
“We can find ways to share our talent and our dollars,” Klabunde said, adding it is all about creating partnerships at all levels.
Revier said he also sees the value in collaborating with other units of government, which is evident in the city’s efforts with different entities, such as the law enforcement center project between the city police and county sheriff departments.
He also said added efforts with the townships in an effort to help bring services, such as water and sewer to people at a more economical cost than they would be able to do themselves is part of what collaboration is all about. He also said there are ways to work together to avoid redundancy.
“If we can offer it to others cheaper then we should do that,” he said, adding different governmental units may be unique in some ways but in other ways they are all serving the same people.
As Klabunde looks toward the rest of 2013, she sees the county continuing to plan for the future, adding a big issue the county is going to discuss this year is how it wants to address the budget.
Does the county want to continue working on a year-to-year plan, or are there discussions that need to take place that look more long term?
Klabunde said the board that is currently in place seems to work well together, adding after being together for some time now they are beginning to understand each other and to develop a level of trust.
“Each of us brings a different set of skills and experiences,” she said, adding that is good for the county as it means being able to cover a broader scope of issues.
Revier said looking forward into 2013 he sees some big things happening in the community, especially as it relates to development.
“I am very excited about what we could see by the end of the summer,” said Revier.
For both Klabunde and Revier the future of the area looks exciting, as local units of government continue to focus on what is best for people they serve.