About Rice County

3R Landmark School, Lonsdale

Mission statement

To proactively address the needs of the public we serve in an efficient and effective manner to enhance the quality of life for the citizens.

General Information

Rice County is located in southern Minnesota, about 50 miles south of the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area. The county, which encompasses an area of 516 square miles, has seven cities and 14 townships.

 According to the 2020 Census, the two largest cities in Rice County are Faribault with a population of 24,453, and Northfield with a population of 20,790. Rice County has a total population of 67,097 which is the14th most populous of Minnesota's 87 counties. 

Rice County was organized on March 5, 1853, and is governed by the general laws of the state of Minnesota. The cities of Faribault and Northfield comprise slightly less than half of the county's total taxable value.

Black and white outlined map of Minnesota depicting the counties, Rice County is red.

Governmental organization and services

The Rice County Board of Commissioners consists of five commissioners, one elected from each of the five districts. Commissioners serve overlapping four-year terms of office. Each member of the board also serves on various committees and subcommittees.

The board appoints the county administrator who is the chief executive officer of the county. The administrator is responsible for administering board policy and for the management of the various county departments.

County functions

The County's functions and employees are divided among 16 departments. Two of these departments -- Attorney and Sheriff -- are headed by elected officials. The remaining department heads are appointed by the County Board.

General fund budget

The General Fund budget of Rice County is approximately $21 million and the total budget is $49 million. The county has approximately 425 full-time equivalent employees. Interstate Highway 35 bisects Rice County from north to south. Minnesota State Highways 99, 60, 246, and 21 traverse the county.

Air transportation is available through the Faribault Municipal Airport.

County services

Rice County provides a full range of services, including

  • Construction and maintenance of highways/infrastructure
  • Economic development
  • General administrative services
  • Health and social services
  • Judicial, law enforcement and jail services
  • Planning and zoning
  • Recreational facilities
  • Tax assessment and collection
  • Veterans services