News Categories: General News

13 Jan
By: MAT Staff 0

State Auditor releases the 2021 CTAS Update

Saint Paul, MN – State Auditor Julie Blaha has released the 2021 update for the Small City and Town Accounting System (CTAS). “We listened to CTAS users across the state and as a result, this update is packed with new features and fixes,” said Auditor Blaha.

“I want to thank our local government partners, including the Minnesota Association of Townships, who tested and provided feedback on the update,” Blaha continued.

“This program is designed to assist small local governments in maintaining their financial records and facilitating reporting to our Office,” Auditor Blaha added. “CTAS is a great example of what can be done when State and local governments work together.”

Each year, the Office of the State Auditor releases a CTAS update based on input from local governments to improve the program and stay current with changes in laws and regulations.  This year, the CTAS 2021 version includes a number of fixes and feature requests.  CTAS 2021 includes updates in the Accounting, Payroll, Indebtedness, Investment, Reports and Administrative Modules.

CTAS 2021 highlights include:

General

  • Updated prompt reminding users to back up data if not done in the last 30 days

Accounting Module:  Receipts, Claims, Disbursements, Cash, and Chart of Accounts

  • Updated ability to use the backspace key in the Fund, Account, Object Code and Program Code columns of the Account Distribution section
  • Added ability to print higher value checks
  • Updated Funds included in the Cash balance
  • Added option to include account descriptions
  • Updated account wizard button display to assist in creating new CTAS accounts

Payroll Module

  • 2021 Federal and State Tax Withholding Tables now included in update
  • Updated ability to add/edit account distribution percentages
  • Updated State Tax Table import procedure
  • Updated CTAS allowing account distribution to be saved if not equal to 1 (100%)
  • Added ability to enter a negative figure in tax adjustment boxes
  • Added ability to enter negative figures in Cafeteria plan Employee share column

Indebtedness Module

  • Updated content in delete button box
  • Maturity date now required when creating debt

Investments Module

  • Updated Investment list tab search by feature for “Not Sold” investments

Reports Module

  • Updated the Unemployment report when payroll date is the first of the month
  • Updated the calculation for Schedule 5 Cash Flows from Capital and Related Financing Activities
  • Added subtotals to Statement of Orders Issued Report (Schedule 9)

Coming in CTAS 2022 will be updates to the Internal Revenue Service 1099 Forms.  It will include the ability to print 1099 information to the 1099-MISC (Miscellaneous Income) and 1099-NEC (Nonemployee Compensation) Forms.  CTAS 2021 currently allows entities to view the 1099 reports and transfer the information to the form.

 The Office of the State Auditor collaborated with representatives of small cities and townships to develop and distribute CTAS. The OSA’s website has a CTAS webpage containing numerous resources and information.  Please refer to our website for CTAS information.

 To view the CTAS webpage, go to:  https://www.auditor.state.mn.us/default.aspx?page=ctas

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12 Jan
By: MAT Staff 0

Township Tuesday Conference Calls continue each month

Township Tuesday calls are held on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month, as a time to connect with MAT staff on latest issues and ask questions. Upcoming “Township Tuesdays” calls will be January 5, January 19, February 2, and so on.

Township Tuesday conference call: 1st and 3rd Tuesdays at 10 AM

Join us by phone: (571) 317-3117 or Toll Free 1-866-899-4679. Access code is 659-961-501.

OR join us by computer, tablet, or smart phone: https://www.gotomeet.me/LeslieRosedahl/townshiptuesday (Make sure to have the GoToMeeting App installed)

PLEASE NOTE: Due to GoToMeeting cloud services, recorded calls do expire after one week.

Listen to the Township Tuesday Call on January 5, 2021

Township Tuesday Call for August 4, 2020 was replaced with CARES Act Webinar. (It is on the CARES Act Resources News item at the end)

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07 Jan
By: MAT Staff 0

COVID-19 and Operating the Township (01/07)

January  7th Update

This article addresses how townships may hold board meetings, operate during the emergency, protections for employees subject to quarantine, and additional information on COVID-19. The directives described in this article arise from Executive Orders issued by the Governor to address the COVID-19 pandemic, which amounts to a peacetime emergency under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 12. That Chapter provides the governor with powers to address such emergencies for as long as emergencies last, the governor chooses to rescind an Order, or until the legislature ends the peacetime emergency powers. The Legislature is called into Special Session each month to consider the question of the continuing or ending the peacetime emergency.

Status Summary

  • Statewide Emergency Currently Expires Jan. 13, 2020, at 11:59 pm. The full order can be found here.
  • Statewide Mask Mandate is currently in effect.
  • Telephone Meetings Available: Yes, towns may continue to use telephone meetings.
  • Emergency Preparedness Plan: Yes, towns currently must have a preparedness plan in place to open offices or interaction with the public.
  • Township Facility Rentals: Yes, it is possible to rent or allow public use of town facilities or amenities that are for the purpose of organized activities. However, there is a distinction between gatherings that allow food, and those that do not.
  • Polling Place Locations: No change in polling places is allowed except for emergencies described in statute.
  • Mail Balloting: Too late to adopt mail balloting or return to in-person election for the November General Election.

On March 13, 2020, Governor Tim Walz declared a public health emergency related to the COVID-19 infectious disease and directed the Minnesota Department of Health to issue guidance on how to prevent and manage the spread of COVID-19. The latest information from MDH can be found here.

Operational Guidelines for Re-Opening:

As COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Minnesota starts to lessen, Governor Walz has issued Executive Order 21-01 (Found here), restricting certain types of gatherings and businesses. The order targets the businesses and social activities that the Minnesota Department of Health has found as contributing the most to the increase in COVID-19 cases. The Order affects towns very little.

The Order goes into effect on January 10th at 11:59 pm and The Order affects townships in a few ways described in this article.

Town Meetings Subject to the Open Meeting Law: Towns may meeting in-person under the Order, but the Minnesota Department of Health and MAT strongly recommend towns use remote or telephonic meeting options for their town meetings. If a town board chooses to meet in-person, they must require all attending the meeting to wear a face mask or face shield. A person may remove his or her mask only while recognized by the board to address the board. The board must require social distancing between people of different households, and limit the capacity of the meeting room accordingly. MAT strongly recommends towns also provide a call-in or other remote meeting attendance option so officers and the public can participate remotely if they choose.

Township Operations, Officers and Employees: Essential township services, including road maintenance operations, continue as before under the latest Order. All non-essential employees are encouraged to work from home if possible, but the town may allow employees and officers to work at the normal place of business under the same conditions as they were before the latest Order. This allows non-customer facing offices to work from the normal place of business with the use of face masks, social distancing, and the other precautions described in the town’s pandemic preparedness plan. Town officers should avoid in-person meetings and work during the length of this Order. They should use remote means of communication whenever possible. The town must have a township preparedness plan that addresses concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. A sample town preparedness plan can be found here.

The Use of Township Amenities: Towns may make the town hall or other amenity available for public use during this Order. The Order allows venues to be used for celebrations and receptions, including weddings, funerals, or religious services. However, the executive order at the time refers to two separate types of rentals:

  1. Rentals without food: Townships may rent out the town hall without food to gatherings of 25% of the town hall capacity with a maximum of 150 people.
  2. Rentals with food: Townships may rent out the town hall to gatherings of 2 or fewer households with a maximum of 10 people.

The details on events relating to celebrations and receptions can be found here. For either type of rental, the town needs to modify its preparedness plan to accommodate opening the town hall to rentals. It may also be prudent to modify the rental contract stating what is and is not allowed under the current executive order.

Other amenities that are not used for social gatherings, like boat launches, parks, playgrounds, and campsites may remain open. Each of these facilities must adhere to guidelines set forth by the most current executive order, MDH, and DEED.

For parks, playgrounds, and launches, the township must follow guidelines as set forth in the most current executive order. Currently, those guidelines would include, frequent cleaning, focusing on high traffic areas and implements frequently touched, like door knobs, and provide assistance in encouraging social distancing.

For facilities open for rental, like the town hall or campgrounds, each are given guidance by DEED. The town hall may be rented out only for religious services, weddings, or funerals. Meaning that, town halls may rent out, up to 50% capacity for religious services, weddings, or funeral.

Guidance on facilities used for religious services, weddings, or funerals can be found here, guidance on usage of indoor facilities used for other purposes can be found here.

Mask Up, Minnesota: On July 22nd, 2020, Gov. Walz enacted Executive Order 20-81, found here, which requires masks to be worn indoors, unless covered by a specific exemption. A full discussion on the application of Mask Up, Minnesota can be found here, however, in general, township officials must wear masks, when indoors, unless (1) they are speaking/presenting during an open meeting, or (2) in an office or cubicle that provides social distance between people.

Preparedness Plans: As of June 29th, all businesses, including townships, must adopt a preparedness plan before reopening to in-person work or in-person interaction with the public. Preparedness plans provide the procedures and rules that officers, employees, and the public are required to follow when carrying out township business. The purpose of these plans is to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 so further stay-at-home orders are not needed. MAT has drafted township specific preparedness plans, which can be found here (for towns without employees) and here (for towns with employees). If a township does not have anyone working in person, including the clerk, treasurer, or in-person meetings by the town board, a preparedness plan does not need to be passed.

Polling Places: Many municipalities have had difficulties with knowing whether their polling place would be available for the upcoming elections, and the legislature made an exception to designate the polling place by July 1st. However, it is now too late for towns to designate a polling place.

Local government boards may hold in-person meetings with social distancing if they choose to do so. Townships may hold regular board meetings in-person within the framework provided in MDH’s guidelines. Those guidelines require social distancing of at least 6 feet between people, and masking when not speaking. The township may need to reduce the room capacity limit to ensure minimum distance can be maintained. Townships may not prohibit the public from attending a township board meeting, unless the person refuses to wear a mask.

However, township board are not required to meet in-person. The best-practice is to continue telephone or video meetings during the entire length of the public health emergency in order to prevent any unnecessary public gatherings. They may choose to continue meeting by telephone meetings as described in the Teleconferencing section below.

Township Clerks, Treasurers, and Administrative Staff may be able to Return to Work: Most office workers to return to work under certain circumstances. Office workers may return to work if: (1) the work duties cannot be performed from home; (2) the office area has adequate space for individuals to work while maintaining social distance from any other person;  (3) the township adopts a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) describes more details about Preparedness Plans here, and township specific samples can be found here (for towns without employees) and here (for towns with employees).

Essential Services During Stay at Home: Local government employees and contractors providing services in “Critical Sectors” may continue their work outside their homes, in the same capacity as previously able to, if they are included in the list of Critical Sectors and their work cannot be performed from home.

Critical Sector employees include: (1) law enforcement, public safety, and first responders; (2) water and wastewater workers; (3) transportation workers who support or enable transportation functions, road construction workers, engineers, including maintenance vehicle operators; (4) public works employees described in the Federal Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidance here; (5) necessary building management employees; (6) security workers; (7) elections workers, including town clerks and election judges; and (8) data and computer systems management employees. Other Critical Sector employees are described in the Governor’s Executive Order and the CISA guidelines.

Teleconferencing: Because of the Statewide public health emergency and the status of COVID-19 as a pandemic illness, townships may want to use remote meeting options. They may use teleconferencing statute found in the Open Meeting Law to avoid in-person meetings.

Notice of meetings by teleconference should be posted usual. The board must ensure they take excellent minutes of their proceedings and may consider audio recording these meetings. If possible, the township must allow members of the public to join the teleconference.

Minn. Stat. 13D.021 allows a town board to hold a meeting by teleconference if there is a public health pandemic or emergency declared under Minnesota Statutes chapter 12, and the township meets the requirements of the statute. Minn. Stat. §13D.021 allows telephone meetings if:

  1. The township chairperson decides an in-person meeting or interactive television meeting is not practical or prudent because of a health pandemic or an emergency declared under Minnesota Statutes chapter 12;
  2. All township board members participating in the meeting can hear all other participants;
  3. All members of the public at the regular meeting location can hear all discussion and testimony and votes of the town board’s members, unless attendance at the meeting is not feasible because of health pandemic or emergency declaration;
  4. At least one member of the town board is physically present at the regular meeting location, unless unfeasible because of health pandemic or emergency; and
  5. All votes are conducted by roll call so each member’s vote can be identified and recorded.

COVID-19 has been labeled a pandemic illness by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Governor has declared a public health emergency under Minnesota Statutes Chapter 12. As such, township boards may choose to use teleconferencing for their meetings during the public health emergency.

Please refer to MAT’s resource Options for Meeting Remotely, found here.  For information on how to set-up and use a teleconferencing provider, please use this link.

MAT has also provided three options to townships looking to conduct teleconferenced meetings.

  • Option A: This is where townships would learn how to, and conduct the meeting on their own. Some more information on how to set-up a teleconference service can be found in document number: ES3000A.
  • Option B: MAT will create a teleconference line and train officers on how to use the teleconferencing service.
  • Option C: MAT will create and assist in hosting the teleconference for the township.

For more information of each of these options, please see: https://mntownships.org/news/additional-teleconference-meeting-options-for-townships/, or email OptionB@MnTownships.org or OptionC@MnTownships.org regarding the specific option listed in the email. If the township would like to conduct set-up and host the teleconference themselves, under Option A, please see: https://mntownships.org/news/options-for-conducting-a-town-meeting-remotely/, as well as document numbers: ES 3000 and ES 3000A in MAT’s information library.

Employees & Quarantine: Township employees showing signs of illness should stay home to avoid passing COVID-19 to anyone else. The township may not discharge, discipline, threaten, or penalize any employee, or discriminated in the work conditions of the employee because the employee has been in quarantine or has been responsible for the care of a person in quarantine. Minn. Stat. § 144.4196.

Townships may require employees to use any available sick or paid time off during their time of illness or quarantine. The township is not required to pay employees who are unavailable to work and have exhausted their paid leave. However, the town board may choose to offer additional paid leave or other accommodation to those employees. MDH has encouraged employers to be generous, understanding, and flexible in allowing employees to remain home for illness and to care for those who are ill.

Delegate Duties and Authorities: To accommodate fewer meetings and possibly absent supervisors, town boards should: (1) identify the essential operations that must continue each month; (2) delegate authorities and boundaries to individual supervisors, officers, or employees to manage those operations between meetings; (3) to the extent possible, provide individual spending authority to managers up to a certain limit for expenses that cannot wait for a board meeting; (4) establish procedures and permissions for officers and employees to work remotely; (5) consider any extended leave policies and reasonable accommodations that may be needed as employees become ill, are quarantined, or must care for other individuals; and (6) prepare for backup services to be provided by other employees, officers, neighboring townships or governments, or secondary contractors.

Signatures on Checks: Townships may arrange for checks to be signed or send by only one officer if certain processes and protections are followed. Minn. Stat. 367.18 says that claims audited and approved by the town board, and countersigned by the clerk, become a check on the township’s account once signed by the treasurer. Based on this statute, townships usually require the signatures of the chairperson, clerk, and treasurer for a check to be valid. This statute describes one method by which a township check or payment can be issued but it is not the only method of paying claims.

One option is to use electronic funds transfers (EFT), which is allowed by Minn. Stat. 471.38. An EFT does not have three signatures on the check, and instead relies on the town board approving a claim, the chairperson, clerk, and treasurer signing or indicating their approval on the claim form or in the township board minutes. Additional guidance on the use of EFT can be found here: https://www.auditor.state.mn.us/default.aspx?page=20090724.031 .

A second option is for townships to arrange for their checks to be signed by only one officer if: (1) the township board has audited and approved the claim; (2) the clerk has indicated his or her approval that the board took the action indicated; (3) the treasurer indicates there is money available in the township’s account to pay the claims; (4) the board has delegated the authority to issue the check; and (5) each of these elements are document in the township board minutes.

Last, townships should remember that payroll can be processed without a board meeting based on the authority described in Minn. Stat. 471.38, subd. 2, if the employees’ rates of pay have been set in advance.

CARES Act/CRF Funds: On June 25th, 2020, Governor Walz announced a plan to distribute $853 million in federal funding to Minnesota communities impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was authorized by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Towns under 5,000 residents will receive $25 per resident, according to data as recent as 2018. Towns with over 200 residents will receive their funds directly from the State and should place those funds into a serperate account to prevent mingling them with other town funds. Towns with under 200 residents are eligible to receive CARES Act funds, but the county holds the funds and the town must work with the county to be reimbursed for costs covered under the CARES Act.

For a fuller discussion, along with answers to frequently asked question, please review this resource.

More Information: Some useful links and information can be found at the following websites:

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

CDC’s Facts About COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/share-facts.html

Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Guidance: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

 

 

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05 Jan
By: MAT Staff 0

IRS Issues Standard Mileage Rates for 2021

IR-2020-279, December 22, 2020

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2021 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on January 1, 2021, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 56 cents per mile driven for business use, down 1.5 cents from the rate for 2020,
  • 16 cents per mile driven for medical, or moving purposes for qualified active duty members of the Armed Forces, down 1 cent from the rate for 2020, and
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations, the rate is set by statute and remains unchanged from 2020.

The standard mileage rate for business use is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.

It is important to note that under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers cannot claim a miscellaneous itemized deduction for unreimbursed employee travel expenses. Taxpayers also cannot claim a deduction for moving expenses, unless they are members of the Armed Forces on active duty moving under orders to a permanent change of station. For more details see Moving Expenses for Members of the Armed Forces.

Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

Taxpayers can use the standard mileage rate but must opt to use it in the first year the car is available for business use. Then, in later years, they can choose either the standard mileage rate or actual expenses. Leased vehicles must use the standard mileage rate method for the entire lease period (including renewals) if the standard mileage rate is chosen.

Notice 2021-02 PDF, contains the optional 2021 standard mileage rates, as well as the maximum automobile cost used to calculate the allowance under a fixed and variable rate (FAVR) plan. In addition, the notice provides the maximum fair market value of employer-provided automobiles first made available to employees for personal use in calendar year 2021 for which employers may use the fleet-average valuation rule in or the vehicle cents-per-mile valuation rule.

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02 Dec
By: MAT Staff 0

Local Road Improvement Program Application Info

Beginning December 2, 2020, townships may apply for up to $1.25 million in funding for road improvement projects. The grant funds are made available through the Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP), funded by the Minnesota Legislature in the 2020 bonding bill. This bill allocated $75,000,000 to the LRIP, which helps local road authorities improve local roads. The application period opens December 2, 2020, and closes March 3rd, 2021. Towns may use these funds to improve rebuild and upgrade roads, including to improve current roads to a 10-ton weight capacity.

How Much may a Town Receive from LRIP?

A township may receive up to $1,250,000 per project; there is no minimum to what towns may receive.

What is a Project?

Simply put, a project is a specific road improvement effort by a township. A project for LRIP may include several roads, so a township with may improve an area of roads within one project. However, a project must have an expected useful life of at least of ten years, which means, projects like filling potholes, standalone ditch repairs, and purchasing and gravel are not eligible for LRIP. The projects must be improvements in nature, not merely maintenance. Projects need not be high traffic roads – local road essential for agricultural, mining, or other production are eligible.

Some examples of projects that would qualify for LRIP include but are not limited to:

  • Rebuilding the base of a road to become 10-ton roads;
  • Tarring a road;
  • Improving Water drainage systems that protect and strengthen the road.

How does a Township Apply for LRIP?

All townships are eligible to submit a project and receive funding. Townships must work with the county road engineer to submit an application. The county engineer serves as the township’s sponsor to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. A project is not eligible if already received other legislatively appropriated funds (like previous LRIP grants or earmarks) for the proposed project roads. Townships should contact their county road engineer soon for help.

After examining whether the town has an eligible project, the township may begin the application process; the application can be found here. Greater detail about the LRIP can be found in the 2020 LRIP Solicitation Guide. For more information, please contact MAT or review the LRIP website.

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01 Dec
By: MAT Staff 0

Holding the March Annual Meeting 2021 & COVID-19

Townships will face an unusual circumstance in March 2021, when they hold the Township Annual Meeting. Towns were able to hold the Annual Meeting in 2020 just as they always had because the COVID-19 pandemic had not yet taken hold in Minnesota. This year, though, towns may need to move the Annual Meeting to a remote means. MAT recommends town boards take the steps below in preparation for the 2021 Annual Meeting:

  1. Use the Time Available: Use the time available to you before deciding on a method of meeting. Towns must provide at least 10 days’ published notice of the date, time, and location of the Annual Meeting. See Stat. § 365.51, subd. 2. The notice must be published no later than Sunday, February 28, 2021, so town boards should plan to make their final decision before that date. Conditions may change significantly between now and March, so no one can say with certainty how we will be meeting.
  2. Prepare Now! Prepare for the possibility of a Remote Meeting NOW! If your Board is unfamiliar with teleconference and video-conference services, it must learn how they can be used now. This will allow those services to be deployed if necessary. MAT has resources in the Information Library about how to start using remote communication services. Towns may also use a third-party service to host their meeting. Also, prepare to deliver the Board of Audit Report and any other report from the Board to those on the call.
  3. If the Meeting is In-Person: If the Board chooses to hold the meeting in person, then the Board should place for social distancing, requiring all those attending wear a mask or face shield, and provide a remote means of listening and/or participating in the Annual Meeting. The only legal exemption to the mask requirement is for those who cannot medically tolerate wearing a mask or shield.
  4. If the Meeting is Remote: If the Board chooses to hold the meeting by remote means (telephone or video-conference methods), then the Board should: (1) plan for the changes a telephone or video meeting requires; and (2) pass a resolution designating the Annual Meeting will be held by remote means. The Board should hold the remote meeting at the same time as directed by the voters in the prior Annual Meeting, or by statute. Voting will likely be difficult in a video or telephone meeting. The Board may try to plan methods for voting, or it may ask the voters to continue the Annual Meeting to a later date for all voting matters. A continued meeting is one that is held in more than one session, allowing the group to leave and return later. An Annual Meeting can be continued to later date if the voters pass a motion to continue the meeting to a specific date, time, and location for the reconvening. If voters continue their meeting it is important they do not adjourn the meeting. The advantage of a continued meeting is that is may allow voters to meet in-person later in the year when circumstances of the pandemic be different.
  5. Be Patient: Townships must convene their Annual Meeting on the second Tuesday of March, except for weather-related circumstances. However, no statute requires the voters to take any action on that day, so towns should not feel pressured to complete their business on that day.
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30 Nov
By: MAT Staff 0

2020 Annual Conference Videos Available Now

Videos for the Friday Breakouts on November 20, 2020 during the MAT Annual Conference are now available on the Annual Conference page.  Find the link for each Breakout under the classroom name.  Each room has one video, and to access the second and/or third breakout, use the > button next to the play button.

 

The Video for the MAT Annual Meeting held Saturday, November 21st, is now available as well.

 

The password for each video is located next to the link.  Please copy that password to access the videos.

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25 Nov
By: MAT Staff 0

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources – 2021 Grant Programs

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announces grant funding opportunities for park and trail projects across Minnesota. Applications are now being accepted for the following grant programs: outdoor recreation, natural and scenic area, regional trail, local trail connections and federal recreational trails.

These grants help local governments throughout the state create partnerships with the DNR to fund projects ranging from local parks, regional trails to trail connections. Eligibility requirements, deadlines, contact information and other details can be found on the DNR Web site at mndnr.gov or on the following program links:

Outdoor Recreation Grant Program

Natural and Scenic Area Program

Federal Recreational Trail Program

Regional Trail Grant Program

Local Trail Connections Grant Program

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16 Nov
By: MAT Staff 0

Designate Polling Place & Return to In-Person Voting

It’s time to designate the polling location for next year!

Minnesota Statute 204B.16 Subdivision 1 requires townships to designate their polling place by resolution or ordinance by December 31 each year. Townships do not need to send any notice about the polling place unless it has changed since the previous election. If the township designates a new polling place the town must mail notice to every affected household with at least one registered voter at least 25 days before the election. The Secretary of State will prepare a sample of this notice. So, if a township has designated a new polling place, please reach out to the Secretary of State’s office to help with preparing this sample notice. You can contact the Secretary of State’s election division at 1-877-600-8683.

We are aware that townships may have chosen a ‘mail in’ procedure this election year due to COVID related circumstances. However, now is an opportunity for you to consider what your  township residents would like in future elections.

As stated in MAT policy, “The Minnesota Association of Townships believes it is important for townships to continue their right and privilege to hold elections at their local polling place. In-Person voting provides an opportunity to emphasize the importance of an ’election day’ for our youth and community.”

In addition the polling place secures voter integrity in part by: providing assurance that eligible voters are filling out the ballots; the ballot will reach its destination on time; guarantees your right to vote in private and the opportunity to correct your vote if a mistake was made.

Townships interested in changing their method of election should work with the county auditor as soon as possible to ensure you enough time to accommodate the change.

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10 Nov
By: MAT Staff 0

2020 Minnesota Election Update (Nov 10)

While there are still some uncertainties, it appears that the Minnesota State Senate will remain in control of the Republicans by a one or two vote margin. The State House will remain in DFL control, but by a tighter margin as Republicans gained four to six seats. DFL Governor Tim Walz was not up for re-election. He will be up for re-election in 2022.

 With the Minnesota state races, absentee ballots will be counted for up to 7 days after the election, if they are postmarked by election day. These ballots are being added to the official vote tally, but are also being physically separated in case of a legal challenge. Because of this process, final results will not be known until November 10 or possibly later in the week. This update is provided with the caveat that things could change as additional absentee ballots are added to the results.  

 

MN Senate

Before the Election: GOP Majority, 35 to 32.

After the Election: GOP Majority is likely to remain, but with a slimmer margin of 34 to 33.

The Minnesota Senate, prior to the election, was controlled by the GOP by three votes, with a flip in two seats necessary for the DFL to take control. A lot of attention and outside money was spent on targeted senate seats.  Redistricting will take place in 2021 and the re-drawing of district maps is controlled by the legislative majority. That fact made this election especially important. Because of redistricting, the Senators are only running for two-year terms this cycle. The entire Senate will be elected again in their new districts in 2022.

The DFL won two suburban seats held by the GOP—SD44 and SD56 – and one Greater Minnesota seat – SD14. These districts were targeted as the seats most likely to flip. SD44 was held by retiring Senator Paul Anderson who was Chair of the Higher Education Committee and SD56 was held by Senator Dan Hall, the Chair of the Local Government Committee. SD14, which includes St. Cloud and surrounding communities, was held by Sen. Jerry Relph. To maintain its majority, however, the GOP beat two targeted DFL incumbents—Senator Dan Sparks (SD27) from Austin, and Senator Matt Little from Lakeville (SD58). Other closely contested Senate GOP seats were Senator Warren Limmer (SD34) in Maple Grove and in Rochester against Senators Dave Senjem (SD25) and Carla Nelson (SD26). All three seats were retained by the GOP.

Even though the election results are not final, Senate caucuses have already met and re-elected their leaders for next year. This includes Sen. Paul Gazelka as Senate Majority Leader for the Republicans and Sen. Susan Kent, Minority Leader for the Senate DFLers. With two committee chairs leaving the Senate, there will likely be some reshuffling of committee chair positions in the Senate.

 

MN House

Before the election: DFL Majority 75 to 59

After the election: DFL Majority, but by a slimmer margin ranging from (71-63) to (69-65)

The Minnesota House has been controlled by the DFL 75 seats to 59 seats. The GOP needed to flip nine net seats to take control. The DFL had hoped to add to its majority, but they did not defeat any GOP incumbents and may have lost up to six DFL seats. The possible GOP pick-ups are a combination of rural seats and a couple of metro seats. The votes continue to change as absentee ballots are counted, so these results are tentative. Here are the seats that the GOP is most likely to win:

  • District 5A Rep. John Persell (DFL—Bemidji), the Chair of the Environment & Natural Resources Policy Committee is losing to former Rep. Matt Bliss (R) by 1,382 votes.
  • District 19A Rep. Jeff Brand (DFL—St. Peter) is trailing Susan Akland (R) by 112 votes.
  • District 27B Rep. Jeanne Poppe (DFL—Austin) is being challenged by Patricia Mueller (R) in southern Minnesota. She currently trails her challenger by 450 votes.
  • District 54A Rep. Anne Claflin (DFL—South St. Paul) is losing to former Rep. Keith Franke (R) by 695 votes.
  • District 55A Rep. Brad Tabke (DFL—Shakopee) is trailing Erik Mortensen (R) by 559 votes with Legal Marijuana Now candidate receiving 1,705 votes.

In addition to these seats, Rep. Amy Wazlawik (DFL—White Bear Lake) is holding onto her seat over her challenger Elliott Engen with a 97 vote lead. And just like the Senate, the House leadership has remained the same. Both caucuses met and re-elected Rep. Melissa Hortman as Speaker, Rep. Ryan Winkler at House Majority Leader and Rep. Kurt Daudt as the Republican Minority Leader. As for the committee structure and new committee chairs, that remains to be seen. Due to COVID and the retirement or defeat of four DFL committee chairs, Speaker Hortman has hinted at condensing committees.

We will update this information as votes are finalized later this week.

In the meantime, be ready for another special legislative session this week regarding the Governor’s COVID emergency powers.

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