News Categories: General News

23 Jun
By: MAT Staff 0

Dept. of Ag Webinar: rural socializing via “Men’s Sheds”

Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Men’s Sheds in Rural Ireland and Minnesota (webinar)

Join us online July 21 at 9 a.m. to learn how Men’s Sheds have taken rural and agricultural communities in Ireland by storm, and see if they’re something farmers and other rural men in Minnesota would enjoy.

 

Men’s Sheds are activity-based social organizations for senior men to get out and do things with other guys. Most members are retired or (in the case of farmers) semi-retired. Sheds are independent: members decide what they want to do together – which might be anything from woodworking, to gardening, carpentry, fishing, community service, music, photography, cooking, biking, or other activities.

 

Sheds foster friendships, keep men active, reduce isolation and loneliness, and improve health and wellbeing. On top of that, they’re fun! Men’s Sheds first began in Australia in the 1980s and have been making their way across the world, creating spaces for camaraderie among men. Australia now has nearly 1,000 sheds, Ireland has 450, Canada is at 20 and growing. Minnesota already has five sheds: do you know a rural community where a shed might take off?

 

WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
Farm and commodity organization leaders, county staff and board members, township officials, social workers and human services professionals, library directors and librarians, farmers, Farm Business Management and Extension educators, clergy, civic and business leaders, and anybody else who might want to join, sponsor, or support a Men’s Shed in their own community. You are welcome to share this invitation with others.

 

WHERE & WHEN

On Zoom July 21,  2021, 9:00-10:00 a.m. (Minnesota time); 3:00-4:00 p.m. (Irish time)

REGISTRATION:

This free event is hosted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.  Register here to receive the Zoom webinar link.

ABOUT THE PRESENTERS


Eva Beirne has been with the Irish Men’s Shed Association (IMSA) team since 2016, managing its National Volunteer programme. She previously worked for a leading research and community development centre, the Netwell Centre in Dundalk Institute of Technology, where she spearheaded the development of sheds in the Northeast Region of Ireland. Eva has also served on the board of the IMSA.

 

 

Aisling McGrath is a PhD candidate from Waterford, Ireland. Her work focuses on the implementation and evaluation of a community-based men’s health initiative, “Sheds for Life,” which is delivered directly in the Men’s Sheds in Ireland.

 

 

 

Phil

Phil Johnson is managing director of the US Men’s Shed Association, whose HQ just happens to be in Minnesota. A former jet pilot, aerospace technologist, and software developer, Phil was recognized by the AARP with the “50 over 50” Award for his efforts in organizing the US Men’s Shed Association.

 

 

 

 

Individuals with a disability who need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this event please contact Stephen Moser at 651-201-6012 or through the Minnesota Relay Service at 711 as soon as possible.

The MDA is an equal opportunity employer and provider.

 

MORE INFO

Meg Moynihan, 651-201-6616  meg.moynihan@state.mn.us

or

Rachel Paskewitz, 651-201-6018 rachel.paskewitz@state.mn.us

 

Selected Short Videos about Men’s Sheds

 

Meg Moynihan

Senior Advisor on Strategy & Innovation

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Description automatically generated

www.minnesotafarmstress.com

651-201-6616

 

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22 Jun
By: MAT Staff 0

Apply: Local Operational Research Assistance (OPERA)

Need funding for a great idea? Submit an OPERA proposal by September 24

Side-dumping plow truck project (Nicollet County)

Do you have an idea for a quick fix or homemade gadget that would make your job safer and more efficient? Or maybe it’s a more complicated solution that would make a big difference at your agency—if only you had the budget to get it done.

Whatever it is, the Local Operational Research Assistance (OPERA) Program wants to help you make it happen!

The program provides funding up to $20,000 per project for local agencies in Minnesota—all you have to do is send us your idea. Simply fill out the brief proposal application (DOCX) and submit it via email to Mindy Carlson at Minnesota LTAP.

Proposals are due by September 24, 2021. Funding is limited, and proposals are considered as they are received, so don’t miss your chance!

Project Examples

Your OPERA project might:

  • Build an innovative gadget
  • Solve a common problem
  • Test a new treatment or process
  • Show a better way to do a job
  • Increase safety and improve efficiency
  • Enhance maintenance operations

To see what other local agencies have done with OPERA funding, check out fact sheets and videos highlighting recently completed projects.

More Information

Program Sponsors

The Local OPERA Program is funded by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board and administered by the Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program.

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21 Jun
By: MAT Staff 0

Online Seminar: Uses of ARPA Funds for Townships

Friday, Jun 25, 2021 10:00 AM

Townships will have many options for spending their share of American Rescue Plan Act funds, and this presentation will describe the major spending categories. MAT will provide examples of each category and talk about what to do if a town doesn’t yet know how to spend their portion of ARPA funding.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86715761172

OR Phone: (301) 715-8592 passcode 86715761172#

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19 Jun
By: MAT Staff 0

Job Posting: Agency Assistant

Job Title: Agency Assistant

Department: MATIT

Supervisor: Manager of MAT Agency Operations

Position Summary: The role of the Agency Assistant is to assist with the day-to-day duties of running the MATIT Insurance Agency and administering property and casualty claims. Success in this position includes the day-to-day operations of the agency run smoothly, and all insurance renewals items are handled on a timely basis.

Principal Responsibilities:

A. Processes WC renewals and issues CLC policies/renewals

B. Prepare and coordinate mailings for renewal packets

C. Issue policy endorsements

D. Assist and scan Worker’s Compensation Audits when received from the Townships

E. Prepare Accounts Receivable daily

F. Review and Enter Accounts Payables

G. Field insurance questions from members

H. Document files in insurance reporting system

I. Assist Manager of MAT Agency Operations on insurance claims

J. Assist Township Officers regarding claims

K. Clerical and administrative duties

L. Abide by the by-laws and policies of the MATIT Board of Trustees and MAT Board of Directors

M. Other duties as assigned

Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions of this position.

Education Requirements:

☒High School Diploma or GED

☒Associate’s Degree, Trade or Technical School

Job Specifications:

  • Two years’ office experience; insurance experience preferred
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office programs, accounting software, strong typing skills (including 10-key) and ability to learn insurance software program
  • Demonstrated communication skills, verbal and written
  • Demonstrated organizational skills that include time management skills with the ability to prioritize tasks
  • Property & Casualty Insurance license and Adjusters License required, willing to educate
  • The position has minimal contact with the general public
  • Office environment with some Travel required

Physical requirements: Lift up to 40 lbs.

Compensation: $20.19 – $23.08/hour depending on experience.

To Apply: Please send resumes to Jon Mocol, jmocol@mntownships.org 

The position will remain open until filled.

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19 Jun
By: MAT Staff 0

American Rescue Plan Act Information

On March 11th, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) into law. ARPA provides stimulus to individuals, businesses, and government entities to assist in their respective COVID-19 responses. ARPA interests townships both as a government entity and an employer. Minnesota towns will receive a portion of $350 Million provided to all Minnesotan towns and cities with a population under 50,000.


To receive funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the town will need to request the funds from Minnesota Management and Budget. Further, towns will need their DUNS number, register it in the federal System for Award Management (SAM), and obtain other documentation.
Presentation Recording: ARPA: Step-by-Step Application Process by MAT
26-minute recording from June 11, 2021
To get a focused and concise discussion on the application process, please review this video.

Any other issues related to specific steps can be seen in the other articles and full webinar recording.


Towns are limited on what American Rescue Plan Act funds may be spent. The presentation below will discuss approved expenditures, and what processes the town can go through to determine what is allowed.

Webinar: Uses of ARPA Funds for Townships
Friday, June 25, 2021
10:00 AM


Contents of the following article:

  • Checklist for Requesting Initial Payment
  • Local Government Relief (and U.S. Treasury Information)
  • Responses to the Public Health Emergency and its Negative Economic Impacts
  • Premium Pay for Essential Employees
  • Replacement of Reduced Revenue
  • Infrastructure Investments
  • Transfer to Other Entities
  • Reporting Expenditures
  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act
  • Firefighter Grants
  • COBRA
  • Single Audit Requirements

 

Checklist for Requesting Initial Payment:

Before towns may receive their ARPA funds, there are several steps they must take. The town should take the following steps:

For more information o and a more detailed discussion on the above, please reference this article, or this document from the U.S. Treasury: NEU_Checklist_for_Requesting_Initial_Payment (PDF)

Local Government Relief:

The most comprehensive portion of towns’ stimulus will give $19.5 Billion to local municipalities throughout the U.S. The total will be split evenly between all “nonentitlement units of local government.” A nonetitlement unit of local government is a local government classified as a municipality by the United States Census Bureau, that is not a metropolitan city. All Minnesota townships and most cities are nonentitlement units of goverment. Out of this $19.5 Billion pot, Minnesota specifically $350 Million will be provided to “nonentitlement units.”

The distribution of funding for nonentitlement units will be managed by the state. Each township is eligible to receive a share of the fund in proportion to their share of the total population of all nonentitlement units’ in the state, but no more than 75% of the town’s 2019 budget. ARPA uses the term “budget” for this factor but we believe the state will use the town’s levy as the basis for setting the 75% limit. The maximum total amounts towns are eligible for can be found here (Please Note: the allocations on the spreadsheet are out of $1,000,000, meaning if your township’s allocation amount is 0.1, then the spreadsheet is indicating that the town can receive a maximum amount of $100,000).

There are several places where towns can gather additional information regarding local government relief from ARPA:

To receive ARPA funds, towns must receive a DUNS number and register it into the Federal Government’s System for Award Management (SAM), however, this article, demonstrates everything that the township needs to complete before receiving funds and this article provides a step-by-step video guide on these processes. These are the same systems used by the Federal Government when providing FEMA aid, as well as what was used during the CARES Act, so towns may already be registered. If the town has not been registered or is unsure about whether it has been, please review this article.

If a town does not have DUNS number, please follow this link and complete the proper procedures. Be prepared to gather certain information like:

  • Legal Name (Usually Town of X, Township of X, or X Township);
  • Other name in which your entity is commonly recognized (Another form of Town name);
  • Physical Address, City, State, and Zip Code (Township Hall or Mailing Address);
  • Mailing Address (if separate);
  • Telephone Number;
  • Contact Name (Usually clerk or board chair); and
  • Number of Employees at your location (If any).

After receiving the DUNS number, the town will want to register that with SAM. The town can complete this process by following this link. The town may find help in registering with SAM by following this slideshow.

ARPA distributions will be split into two rounds. The first half will be sent around May 2021, if possible. The State will distribute funding 30 days after the reception. States may extend the distribution up to 120 days, with the second half sent out 12 months after the first.

Under ARPA, funds have more eligible uses than what the CARES Act provided. Towns can use the funds for any eligible costs incurred between March 3rd, 2021, and December 31st, 2024. Specific eligible expenses from the federal level are as follows, each of these specific provisions will be discussed further:

  • Responses to the public health emergency and its negative economic impacts:
    • Assistance to households, small businesses, and non-profits in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are among negative economic impacts:
  • Premium pay for essential workers:
    • Limits include $13 per hour and a $25k cap to essential workers:
  • Replacement of reduced revenue:
    • Currently thought to be calculated as the gap between 2019 and 2020 revenue:
  • Some infrastructure investments, like:
    • Water:
    • Sewer:
    • Broadband:
  • Transfers to other entities like:
    • Non-profits:
    • Public benefit corporations involved in transporting people or cargo:
    • Special purpose governments, such as joint powers:
    • State:
    • Tribal organizations:

The American Rescue Plan Act also clarifies which expenditures are specifically ineligible, including:

  • Directly or indirectly offset tax reductions or increases: and
  • Pensions.

 

Responses to the Public Health Emergency and its Negative Economic Impacts:

ARPA funds may be used to pay the costs of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic if the town finds: (1) the expenditure is needed because of or arises from a negative impact from COVID-19; and (2) the expenditure addresses the need or negative impact. For example, costs incurred to communicate about the pandemic and enhance safety measures such as personal protective equipment or ventilation within buildings owned by the town could qualify. The town may also provide grants to households, businesses, and non-profits that demonstrate a need based on the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If a town does want to provide grants, the town should create a grant program with the help of the township attorney. The Treasury’s Rules provide some guiding principles for the grant application such as:

  • Demonstrate the extent to which there has been an economic harm, which may include the loss of revenue or earnings directly related to or made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Detail how the grant recipient and funding will address those harms.

 

Premium Pay to Essential Employees:

Essential employees may receive premium pay. Most of ARPA is “forward-looking” meaning that only costs incurred after March 2021 can be relieved by ARPA. However, premium pay to essential workers may be retroactive to the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Treasury Rules list essential workers, however, the rules clearly state the list is not exclusive and there may be additional workers considered essential by the township board.

Premium pay may increase an essential workers’ income by 150%. However, this must be in addition to the wage paid by the township – the premium pay cannot be used in lieu of paying the worker their standard wage. In other words, the township must pay the base or standard wage the employee would have earned without the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
 

Replacement of Reduced Revenue:

The Treasury rules provide a detailed algorithm to define what is the “reduced revenue” of the town:

Max {[Base Year Revenue (1+Growth Adjustment) nt/12 ] – Actual General Revenuet ; 0}

The following are the defined terms:

  • Base Year Revenue: The general revenue collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Growth Adjustment: Equal to the greater of 4.1% (or 0.041) and the recipient’s average annual revenue growth over the three full fiscal years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • n: The number of months elapsed from the end of the base year to the calculation date;
  • Actual General Revenue: The recipient’s actual general revenue collected during a 12-month period ending on each calculation date; and
  • Subscript t: Calculation date.

This is a complicated formula and the meaning of it is not yet clear and we are still waiting on further clarification from the federal government on this issue.
 

Infrastructure Investments:

Townships may use ARPA funds to aid in certain infrastructure issues, including sewer, water, and broadband. If the town would like to use ARPA funds on sewer and water, certain federal guidelines must be followed. If the town would like to use funds on broadband infrastructure, they must implement broadband with 100 Mbps download speed and 100 Mbps upload speed. These requirements are in place to ensure any broadband infrastructure supported by ARPA funding is capable of supporting telework or remote schooling. If the minimum speed requirements are impracticable, they may be lessened to 100 Mbps download speed and 20 Mbps upload speed, with the ability to scale up to the 100/100 Mbps standard. The town may also assist in providing broadband to individual households that have broadband service that provides less than 25 Mbps download speed and 3Mbps upload speed.

 

Transfer to Other Entities:

Local governments may transfer funds to other local governments, like other towns, cities, or school districts. Notably different than the CARES Act, towns may provide ARPA funds to non-profit entities.

 

Reporting Expenditures:

Like under the CARES Act, there will be a reporting requirement to the Federal Treasury Secretary. The town will report yearly, starting on September 30th, 2021, and due October 31st, 2021, with additional reports required each year from October 31st, until 2026. However, the exact requirements of reporting are not yet known, and it is possible that the reporting will look similar to reporting under the CARES Act.

 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act:

Towns are subject to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which requires employers to provide employees paid time off to care for themselves or certain qualifying people after contracting COVID-19 or being quarantined. Originally the FFCRA did not provide reimbursement to towns for the extra costs incurred due to ARPA. However, the American Rescue Plan Act has provided relief to townships if all of the provisions of the FFCRA are followed for any cost incurred through September 30th.

 

Firefighter Grants:

During the CARES Act distribution, many fire departments and rural fire associations requested townships pay for, contribute to, or give funding to the fire department. The CARES Act did not provide any funding directly to fire departments and many townships provided such funding to their fire department. The American Rescue Plan Act provides $300 million for assistance to fire departments in grants. So, any costs that fire departments are likely to bear in response to the COVID-19 pandemic should be covered by this $300 million. MAT recommends townships do not provide ARPA funding to fire departments at this time, for several reasons. First, fire departments should be able to pursue ARPA funding designated for fire departments before seeking other funding. Second, municipal-owned fire departments should benefit from ARPA funding provided directly to their municipality. Third, many departments received CARES Act funding that may have addressed some of their COVID-19 related expenses.

 

COBRA:

Employers (including towns) are provided a temporary COBRA premium subsidy, allowing eligible individuals to obtain COBRA continuation coverage without paying the COBRA premiums. The additional COBRA funds will cover costs from April 1st through September 30th, 2021.

 

Single Audit Requirements:

Any local government that receives more than $750,000 or more in a year from federal awards is required to obtain a single audit or program-specific audit, which includes both ARPA and CARES Act funds. A single audit must be performed by an independent auditor under generally accepted government auditing standards. Please review this article for more information.

 

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18 Jun
By: MAT Staff 0

PERA Trainings

Employer Legislative Update
Learn about the 2021 Omnibus Retirement Bill and how it will impact the day-to-day administration of PERA benefits.
When: Thursday, July 15: 10:00-11:30 am

Welcome Employer: PERA Reporting Training
Recommended for payroll, HR, and business managers who are new to PERA reporting.
When: Thursday, June 24 & Thursday, July 29: 10-11:30 am

Registration pages are available on the MNPERA employer education page: https://mnpera.org/education/employer-education/

 

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17 Jun
By: MAT Staff 0

Job posting: Financial Assistant

Job Description: MAT Financial Assistant

Position: Financial Assistant

Reports To: The MAT Financial Assistant will report to Financial Director.

 

Job Overview
The Financial Assistant is responsible for day-to-day financial administration across MAT. The position works to see that all financial information is up-to-date so staff and board members can monitor budgets, spending and review the financial health of the organization.
• Processing payroll bi-weekly and updating benefit/deduction information as needed
• Managing the Accounts Payable
• Help prepare and print Miscellaneous yearly financial documents

Responsibilities and Duties
• Responsible for all aspects of staff travel and event registrations
• Handling order requests and invoicing for MAT materials — Town manual, Township
Directory, magazine subscriptions, and MAT paraphernalia.)
• Responsible for MAT membership dues administration
• Review investment statements – update spreadsheet and file monthly accounting reports.
• Serve as back-up to Financial and Administrative Director for bank transactions and
investments.
• Assist in various administrative duties, as assigned.
• Serve as a back-up or alternate in the following instances:
o Preparation and distribution of incoming mail
o Answering phones
o On-site support at educational events
o Making hotel reservations, receiving confirmations, and notifications for MAT conferences or meetings
• Abide by the by-laws and policies of the MAT Board of Directors.
• Any other duties as assigned

Qualifications
• Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business, finance, accounting, or a related field
• Two to five years’ accounting/bookkeeping experience
• Proficient in Microsoft Office programs, accounting software, strong typing skills (including 10-key) and able to learn new computer programs.
• Hands-on experience with office equipment.
• Demonstrated communication skills, verbal and written.
• Demonstrated ability to detect and fix errors in data entry and calculations.
• Demonstrated ability to juggle several projects in a professional, courteous and pleasant manner.
• Demonstrated organizational skills that include time management skills with the ability to prioritize tasks.
• Demonstrated strong interpersonal skills to respond to both member and staff concerns.
• Displays integrity and honesty in all transactions
• The position has ongoing contact with the general public
• Able to lift up to 40 pounds
• Minimal requirements for driving

 

Wage is $20.67 – $23.56, based on experience.

To Apply: Please send a resume to Jesi Petersen at jpetersen@mntownships.org

The position will remain open until filled.

ORGANIZATION BACKGROUND:

The Minnesota Association of Townships is a non-profit corporation representing Minnesota townships. Its goals are educational and charitable, promoting an understanding of the history of townships and being a voice for its roughly 9,000 officers. It regularly conducts research and educational programs designed to foster efficient and economical town governmental services and acts as a liaison between township officers and other local government officials to encourage sustained cooperation.
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16 Jun
By: MAT Staff 0

ARPA: Step-by-Step Application Process

The presentation linked here provides a step-by-step process towns may follow to receive funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The presentation includes directions to:

  1. Apply for a DUNS Number
  2. Register the DUNS in the SAM system
  3. Banking Needs
  4. Complete 2 require Federal Forms
  5. Determine the Town’s expected grant award
  6. Complete the application to receive funds

We have made this presentation as robust as possible, but we were unable to reach some pages you may find in the process. Overall, this should help you complete the process of applying for the funding. This presentation does not include information on what the ARPA funding may be spent on. That information will be provided in a later presentation – Friday, June 25 at 10:00am,  Webinar: Uses of ARPA Funds for Townships.

Application Process Video link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BW-9VGYXAtzic_IkVbDfPX_yMH0DT_GV/view?usp=sharing

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15 Jun
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.

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)

 

Listen to the Township Tuesday Call on June 15, 2021

Listen to the Township Tuesday Call on June 8, 2021

Listen to the Township Tuesday Call on May 18, 2021

Listen to the Township Tuesday Call on May 4, 2021

(Recordings are now available for a year!)

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14 Jun
By: MAT Staff 0

COVID-19 and Operating the Township (06/14)

COVID-19 and Operating the Township (06/14)

June 14th Update – ***NOTE this resource is being updated as the most recent orders are interpreted and understood. ***

This article addresses how townships may hold board meetings, operate during the emergency, protections for employees subject to quarantine, the Executive Order’s sunset provisions, and additional information on COVID-19. The directives described in this article arise from Executive Orders and Department of Labor guidance issued by the Governor to address the COVID-19 pandemic. During a peacetime emergency, Minnesota Statutes Chapter 12 provides executive orders issued during peacetime emergencies with the full force and effect of law. The latest information from MDH can be found here.

Table of Contents:

Status Summary:

      • Statewide Emergency Currently Expires July 14, 2021, at 11:59 pm. The full Order can be found here.
      • Statewide Mask Mandate is NOT in effect. Effective Friday, May 14, 2021, the Statewide Mask Mandate has been rescinded as it relates to townships and their activities.
      • Telephone Meetings Available: Yes, towns may continue to use telephone meetings.
      • Emergency Preparedness Plan: Yes, towns currently need a preparedness plan to open offices or interact with the public but the plan no longer needs a masking requirement.
      • Township Facility Rentals: Yes, it is possible to rent or allow public use of town facilities or amenities.

Township Operations:

Preparedness Plans: 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 must 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). However, these plans are limited to townships that hold in-person meetings. If the town has any other amenity, the town must modify the plan in accordance with the specific Department of Labor and Industry guidance at Staysafe.mn.gov.

Township Operations, Officers, and Employees: All employees are encouraged to work from home if possible but may return to work as normal. Employees may return with the use of face masks, social distancing, and the other precautions described in the town’s pandemic preparedness plan. Towns should continue to use remote means of communication whenever possible.

The Use of Township Amenities: Towns may make the town hall or other amenity available.

Quarantine if Exposed: 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 unavailable to work and have exhausted their paid leave. However, the town may be subject to the FFCRA. Please see this poster for additional information. Further, 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.

Township Open Meetings: 

Towns may meet in person under the current Executive 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 meeting room’s capacity 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.

Teleconferencing: Minn. Stat. 13D.021 allows the town to conduct meetings remotely. If the town decides to do so either partly or fully through teleconferencing, the town must follow these requirements:

      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 a health pandemic or emergency; and
      5. All votes are conducted by roll call so each member’s vote can be identified and recorded.

Authority: 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.

Notice of Meetings: Teleconferenced meetings should post notice as 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.

Further Questions: 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.

Additional Issues:

Signatures on Checks: Townships may arrange for checks to be signed or sent 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 documented 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.

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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