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|MACO Educates Its Members|
By J. Bonnie Rehder, Clay County Recorder and co-Chair of the MACO Education Committee
Similar to the AMC practice of providing continuing education for commissioners; the Minnesota Association of County Officers (MACO) also provides continuing education for the executive branch of county officials. MACO is charged with the duty of facilitating continuing education for its members as institutions of higher learning don’t provide the specific courses MACO members need to meet their responsibilities. Institutions of higher learning don’t include courses such as election administration or Torrens administration procedures, Minnesota property tax administration or public funds investing. Fortunately, MACO steps in to provide these educational necessities.
Statutes often direct what a result needs to be, but often does not instruct how to achieve the result. Counties vary in size and structure from each other, so a "one shoe fits all” approach often doesn’t work. County officials need to obtain specific information to determine how best to meet the needs of their county. MACO county officials are aware of their statutory responsibilities, the diversity of their county, their county resources, their county structure, and their county infrastructure and how best to achieve the statutory results. Sharing information and networking between county officials is a very important part of MACO education.
Minnesota Statutes sometimes require a state agency to manage the procedures as well as produce results. In many other instances, it is up to the county to create proper procedures and efficiencies. Counties vary from their neighbors for many reasons. Counties differ in size of acres, size of population, age of population, diversity of population, miles of roads, number of bridges, number of lakes, infrastructure of computer hardware/software and so forth. County government officials need the latitude to determine what will work best for their diverse and unique composition.
MACO offers to its membership 60 or more hours of education in each four-year term. The MACO Education Program requires 45 hours of MACO education tracked by Century College to become a MACO certified County Official. Ten hours per year of continuing education is required. Some counties have policies to require education specific to certain county positions. MACO members regularly attend conferences for updates and interpretation of new legislation and programs. MACO encourages uniformity between counties whenever possible. Attendance to MACO conferences ensures education and information disbursement at the local level. MACO members not only learn from conferences, they also share the much-needed information throughout the county systems, as well as assisting their clients with updates to new requirements for their business practices.
MACO has been instrumental in providing technology education for many county personnel through "E-Counties” conferences. E-Counties is a MACO committee which was formed specifically to educate any and all county personnel about technology. In today’s world technology can make us or break us. All Minnesota counties need to be technology savvy. Counties that do so will be investing in the future and eventually saving dollars. MACO members will have to make the decision on how to approach the technology needs of the county, from a very individual county perspective. Attending conferences educates and assists each MACO member with this specialized task.
The reasons why MACO members need such specialized education and opportunities to share such information are as varied as the counties across this great state. This is why the MACO Winter Conference in January and the Minnesota Association of County Auditor, Treasurer and Financial Officers (MACATFO) and Minnesota County Recorders Association (MCRA) summer conferences include specialized educational sessions. The MACO Association promotes the statewide uniformity in practices and procedures of county officers whenever possible. The public can then rely on similar processes throughout the state. The public interest is best served when all offices in county government can work together in a spirit of harmonious cooperation. MACO is dedicated to encourage friendliness, cooperation and understanding among all county officials and employees to achieve this result.