Board of Commissioners


St. Louis County Board of Commissioners

Duties of a County Commissioner

Representing People and Responding to Their Concerns

County commissioners are elected officials who oversee county activities and work to ensure that citizen concerns are met, federal and state requirements are fulfilled, and county operations run smoothly.  They spend a lot of time working with and representing people and responding to their concerns. They attend regular meetings of the county board as well as meetings of board subcommittees and county-related boards and commissions. They represent county issues before local, state and national groups, including school boards, city councils, township boards, and state and federal offices.

While no minimum education or prior experience is required, individual backgrounds and personalities can enhance effectiveness in the office of commissioner. Useful experiences include operating a business; service on township and school boards or city councils; involvement in community activities; and management experience. Personal traits that can benefit county commissioners include a sense of humor, an open mind, a vision of where county government should go, an ability to compromise, and an ability to delegate. Effective communication and negotiation skills are also important.

St. Louis County commissioners serve a four-year term that is staggered among the board members, so that not all are elected at the same time. Newly elected commissioners take office the first Monday in January following their election. County board chairs are elected at the Board’s first meeting in early January. Commissioners’ salaries vary, because they are set by individual county boards at the beginning of each year. In recent years commissioner salaries in Minnesota have ranged from $5,600 to over $100,000 annually.

The office of St. Louis County Commissioner is considered to be a full-time position with a 2024 annual salary of $76,578.18. The chair of the board receives an additional $3,600 per year; the vice-chair, $1,800. As elected officials, commissioners do not accrue and are not charged for vacation, sick leave, personal leave, compensatory time, or holidays. They do receive county contributions towards participation in the county’s insurance programs commensurate to those contribution amounts received by county employees.

County Management: Administration

County commissioners have administrative duties, as well as financial and legislative responsibilities. Following is a partial list of these duties and responsibilities:

  • Establish policies and procedures for central administration and county departments to meet county goals.
  • Authorize the maximum number of county employees, approve a county benefit schedule, negotiate and approve labor agreements, approve the recruitment and employment of key county employees, and oversee the implementation of the county pay equity plan and the county affirmative action/equal opportunity plan.
  • Review liability issues and take appropriate measures to protect county employees and county property.
  • Adopt and oversee the process for purchase of equipment and supplies for use by the county.

Establish a plan for the review and evaluation of county services and programs.

County Management: Taxation/Finance

  • Review, adjust and adopt the annual county operating budget and programs, as presented by county administration or county departments.
  • Authorize the maximum property tax levy and the collection of county-wide property taxes.
  • Serve as, or appoint, a board of equalization to resolve disputes regarding appraised property values for taxing purposes.
  • Authorize the application for and/or receipt of funds from federal and state governments and approve their use within the county budget.
  • Adopt and participate in the implementation of fiscal management policies in areas such as investments, reserve policy, short-term borrowing, use of bonds and risk management/insurance.
  • Monitor the county’s overall fiscal health through regular reports of the auditor, treasurer and finance departments.
  • Establish a process for approving the payment of expenses incurred by the county.
  • Develop and adopt a capital improvement program and operating budget covering major county expenditures over a series of years.

County Management: Other Functions

  • Adopt appropriate ordinances for the enforcement of county-wide actions.
  • Ratify, modify or deny the actions of commissions and boards which are advisory to the county board.
  • Approve county participation in joint powers agreements with other governmental units.
  • Represent the county on administrative/advisory boards and commissions which provide direct and indirect county or county-related services. These may include airports, libraries, community corrections, local public health boards, community action agencies, mental health centers, developmental achievement centers, extension services, regional development commissions, social services agencies, joint solid waste commissions, and planning commissions.
  • Make decisions regarding participation in optional federal or state programs.
  • Communicate county actions and concerns to the public through business groups, civic organizations, school groups, the press, and other public forums.
  • Participate in both district and statewide meetings of the Association of Minnesota Counties (AMC), including the annual meeting and the legislative conference.
  • Participate in activities of the National Association of Counties (NACo). Attend conferences, meetings, trainings and other education programs, which relate to county activities, as approved by the board.
Source: Association of Minnesota Counties


County Commissioners Office
100 North 5th Avenue West
Room 202
Duluth, MN 55802


Contact Your County Commissioner