Dakota County manager to retire after nearly 8 years in role

Dakota County is starting to look for a new person to oversee county operations.

It comes after Matt Smith, who has been the county manager since 2016, announced Friday he’ll retire this spring. His last day will be May 23.

After years of work as the financial director for the city of St. Paul and more than 14 years with the Minnesota Department of Revenue, Smith joined the county as its financial services director back in 2008 before moving up to deputy county manager and then county manager.

During his tenure, the county boasted strong financial ratings, improved mental health crisis programs and enhanced park and library amenities while expanding services for a growing population. Smith also oversaw the county’s COVID-19 response.

“It’s been my privilege to work alongside our county board and staff to serve Dakota County residents,” Smith said in a prepared statement. “This organization does important work in many different ways to help make this a good place for everyone to live and work. I’m glad to have played my part in that, and I’m confident in the county’s future.”

“Matt Smith is the rarest kind of leader,” Board Chair Joe Atkins added. “Always first to lend a hand and last to take credit, Matt constantly strives to build consensus and collaboration among all involved. He is the consummate public servant, and we deeply appreciate his service.”

The Dakota County manager leads a team of more than 2,000 employees for the state’s third-largest county by population.

The board says it has started discussing the hiring process to replace Smith but hasn’t yet provided any timeline or search plans.