Winona County ended the year on a positive note and started the new year on a high note, as it received the 2021 County of the Year award from the Minnesota Counties Intergovernmental Trust, or MCIT, at the annual conference of AMC in December.
The MCIT writes that this award “recognizes this county for its exceptional commitment to loss control and risk management; its aggressive efforts to educate and educate staff on techniques to mitigate exposure and its superior assistance in the event of a disaster.
Categories considered during selection include consulting on risk control, underwriting, damage claims administration and workers’ compensation.
County Board Chair Marcia Ward acknowledged that the award was given to every employee in the county.
“It’s just an affirmation of the good job the staff have done in managing risk both in our P&C area and in our worker repair area,” Ward said. “It means we haven’t had people slipping and falling. We haven’t had any sheriff’s patrol cars that hit deer and that sort of thing that raises your claims and isn’t good stuff. So they put into practice what we preach, namely that the MCIT group offers a lot of training, safety training and seminars on risk management, etc. Our staff were involved in these things and then brought those things to the county which helped to minimize our complaints in these areas. “
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Ward added that having staff putting in place good practices specifically in risk management is not only great for the county, but it is also a huge help for those who live in the county.
“It reduces our premiums. So we are saving taxpayers’ money. It’s like, you know, your auto insurance or your home insurance. If you start having claims, your premiums go up, ”Ward said. “With them practicing the right things keeping our premiums to a minimum, it’s hard to bring down the premiums in any form of insurance these days. But this directly affects the premiums we pay for these covers. They save taxpayer money through good risk management practices.
The MCIT is made up of 81 different counties in Minnesota. “To get (the price) over 81 counties, that’s pretty awesome,” Ward said.
Ward, who is also a member of the MCIT board, explained that the winner selection process is always quite complex.
“It’s a kind of internal selection. But it’s specifically points-based, ”Ward said. “We were given five of the major counties in the state of Minnesota. It is in very tight parameters that the top five is awarded to us.
As for the policies in place, acting county administrator Maureen Holte added that it was more about procedures than policies, especially for risk management.
“For example, the communication pieces that we send out, like right now with slips and falls with snow and ice, so we’re doing friendly reminders about that,” Holte said. “We provide training on appropriate clothing if you are traveling in the community, so officers have appropriate clothing to wear if it is inclines or slippery roads or whatever, road personnel you know, that stuff, they’ve got the right things they have to do their jobs safely.
Holte also expressed her gratitude for the staff reporting to MCIT, which she describes as “very, very important” as each category followed by the MCIT requires some level of reporting to the trust.
The two main people in charge of reporting are Sheila Becker and Lacey Konkel, with Penny Schmidtknecht taking care of much of the training as well as real estate claims. Holte spoke well of all the staff, saying they do “a wonderful job”.