News Categories: General News

09 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

Noxious Weed and Invasive Plant Grant Applications Now Open

Applications are due on November 26

St. Paul, MN: The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is accepting applications for the first round of the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) Noxious Weed and Invasive Plant Grant. Counties, municipalities, tribal governments, and weed management entities (including weed management areas) may apply for grants to address noxious weeds around the state.

Grants for FY20 will be funded at two levels. Level 1 grants will be up to $10,000 awards to be spent in one year and are intended to support local activity. Level 2 grants will be between $10,001 and $50,000 to be spent over two years and are intended to promote collaboration with entities within and outside their jurisdictions. Cities, counties, townships, conservation districts and tribal nations are encouraged to apply for both grant levels.

For the FY18-19 biennium, the MDA received $600,000 to fund projects like purchasing equipment and supplies, conducting mapping and outreach activities, and hiring private applicators to manage noxious weeds. Sixty-four municipalities were awarded grants averaging $10,000. Of those 64 municipalities, 60 were counties, three were townships, and two were cities.

To apply, please read through the request for proposals (RFP) on the MDA website at www.mda.state.mn.us/weedgrant. Applications are due no later than 4:00 p.m. on November 26, 2019. Contact Emilie Justen at emilie.justen@state.mn.us with any questions about the application.

The MDA anticipates awarding another round of grants in Fiscal Year 2021.

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30 May
By: MAT Staff 0

Disaster Declaration Request for 51 Counties; Money Available for Road Damages

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is seeking a presidential disaster declaration for spring storms that caused nearly $40 million in damage to infrastructure across Minnesota.

Walz requested the federal aid in a letter Tuesday to President Donald Trump. In the letter, the governor wrote that “The transition from winter to spring in Minnesota was exceptionally difficult this year,” and that the state needs federal help “to recover from this major natural disaster.”

Walz requested the declaration for 51 Minnesota counties and four tribal governments. (FEMA Request)

Officials say flooding, blizzards and strong winds from mid-March to late April caused damage totaling $39 million — well above the $8 million threshold required for a federal declaration. Severe flooding was reported along the state’s major rivers, including the Mississippi, Minnesota, St. Croix and Red rivers. (Dates for damage event are March 12 to April 28.)

The governor wrote that St. Paul shut down eight major roads because of Mississippi River flooding, including some streets that had up to seven feet of water over them. He also said a portable floodwall was installed to protect the St. Paul Downtown Airport.
Ramsey County communities spent nearly $1.2 million on emergency protections, he said. Statewide, that figure rose to $4 million.

Roads and bridges accounted for 39 percent of the state’s verifiable damages, totaling more than $15 million, Walz said. Most of that damage was to township gravel roads that are critical to agricultural, forestry and tourism industries in the affected areas.
And about $14 million is for damage to utilities suffered during the April 10-12 winter storm that toppled about 3,000 power poles and knocked out electric service to 100,000 people. Some Minnesotans were without power for a week. (See summary of eligible public assistance by county.)

If granted by Trump, the declaration would reimburse communities for removing debris as well as repairing and replacing damaged infrastructure. The President is expected to act on the request in the next few weeks.

For Townships: If the President makes a declaration, each township needs to stay in touch with their County Emergency Manager. (Find your County Emergency Manager.) Once the President acts on the Declaration Request, the County Emergency Manager will have a meeting that applicants must attend. Because of the nature of the spring event and the damages involved, FEMA money will be available for township roads damaged by flooding and frost boils.

A majority of this article appeared in the Twins Cities Pioneer Press, May 29, 2019.

Disaster Declaration of Assurance

Disaster Applicants Guide (Guide is from previous Disaster Declaration, but will not change significantly from this one.  There will be a new designation number.)

 

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06 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

Township Day

Minnesota’s townships to hold annual town meetings on Township Day, Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Mark your calendar for democracy in action

(St. Michael, Minn.) – Minnesota’s 1,781 townships will each hold their annual town meeting on Tuesday, March 12. Known as Township Day, these annual meetings are held every year on the second Tuesday in March. Residents of the townships will meet to voice their opinions about local issues with other township residents and also vote directly on their annual tax levy; direct democracy in action. The meetings also often tackle other local issues.

In addition, many of the state’s townships will also hold their elections on Tuesday for township officers.

“The annual meeting on Township Day is what really sets townships apart from other forms of local government. At this meeting, residents have a direct voice in how the township will be run and will vote on a variety of matters, including the amount they will pay in taxes the following year,” said Minnesota Association of Townships Executive Director David Hann.

“Township Day’s annual meeting is a great place to talk about the future of your community and work with other residents in deciding how to meet those needs. Please plan on participating in grassroots government on Tuesday, March 12,” continued Hann.

“The Minnesota Association of Townships urges every township resident to attend their annual meeting. Township residents can find the location and time of their annual meeting by checking their local newspaper for the published notice or by contacting their township clerk,” concluded Hann.

Information Minnesota’s townships: There are approximately 914,174 township residents in 1,781 townships in Minnesota. Townships exist in every area of the state, including the metropolitan area. Some, with populations of more than 1,000, function in much the same way as a small city. While many townships remain rural agricultural centers, other host a variety of residential, light commercial, and industrial development.

The tradition of Township Day: The tradition of a town meeting has roots in colonial America. New England town meetings gave citizens a way to exercise local authority. Those meetings were especially important in the development of democracy because it emphasized problem-solving through group efforts.

Background on townships: Townships were the original form of local government in Minnesota, established in the 1800s when Congress ordered a survey that divided the Minnesota territory into 36 square mile tracts of land. Today, the term “township” generally refers to public corporations governed by a local board of supervisors and created to provide services to residents.

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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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10 Jan
By: MAT Staff 0

IRS 2019 Federal mileage rates

IRS news release regarding the 2019 federal mileage rates.

You can view the following information at https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/irs-issues-standard-mileage-rates-for-2019

IR-2018-251

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today issued the 2019 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes.

Beginning on Jan. 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:

  • 58 cents per mile driven for business use, up 3.5 cents from the rate for 2018,
  • 20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes, up 2 cents from the rate for 2018, and
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

The business mileage rate increased 3.5 cents for business travel driven and 2 cents for medical and certain moving expense from the rates for 2018. The charitable rate is set by statute and remains unchanged.

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, except members of the Armed Forces on active duty moving under orders to a permanent change of station. For more details see Notice-2019-02.

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.

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

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously. These and other limitations are described in section 4.05 of Rev. Proc. 2010-51.

Notice 2019-02, posted today on IRS.gov, contains the standard mileage rates, the amount a taxpayer must use in calculating reductions to basis for depreciation taken under the business standard mileage rate, and the maximum standard automobile cost that a taxpayer may use in computing the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan.

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09 Jan
By: MAT Staff 0

An Echo Press Editorial: Eye-opening facts about townships

Posted on Nov 14, 2018 at 8:21 a.m.  Link to story.

Township boards throughout the state handle revenues totaling more than $325 million.

They make decisions regarding roads, bridges, sewer projects, tax levies and more.

They’re considered the oldest form of government in Minnesota and represent grassroots government at its purest level.

Yet a lot of people don’t know what they do or understand the scope of their importance or even their populations size.

LaGrand Township here in Douglas County has a population of 4,223 — the third largest non-metro township in the state (or 11th if you add in the townships from the Twin Cities metro area). Alexandria Township’s population of 2,832 ranks as the 14th largest township away from the metro area.

Of the 20 townships in Douglas County, the five biggest — LaGrand, Alexandria, Carlos, Ida and Lake Mary — have a combined population of 11,569, which is nearly as large as the city of Alexandria.

A new report issued by State Auditor Rebecca Otto last week offers insights into townships. It analyzed town financial operations for the calendar year ended December 31, 2017.

Some highlights:

  • In 2017, there were 1,781 townships, compared to 853 cities and 87 counties. The 2017 population estimates from the state demographer show that 914,174 individuals live in townships representing about 16.4 percent of the state population. Township populations range from 10,951 in the Town of White Bear to 5 in the Town of Hangaard. About 53 percent of townships have a population of 300 or less.
  • In 2017, Minnesota townships reported total revenues of $325.3 million. This amount represents a 2.6 percent increase over the total revenues reported in 2016. From 2013 to 2017, total township revenues increased 16.3 percent.
  • Minnesota townships reported total expenditures of $306.4 million in 2017. This amount represents a decrease of 1.4 percent from the amount reported in 2016. Over the five-year period of 2013 to 2017, town total expenditures increased 14.7 percent.
  • Debt service expenditures are the principal and interest payments on outstanding indebtedness. Townships had debt service expenditures of $13.3 million in 2017. This amount represents an increase of 18.5 percent from 2016. Over the five-year period of 2013 to 2017, debt service expenditures increased 3.8 percent.
  • Outstanding indebtedness totaled $56 million in 2017. This represents a decrease of 2.4 percent from 2016. Outstanding bonded indebtedness totaled $34.9 million in 2017, which represents a decrease of 1.7 percent from the $35.5 million outstanding in 2016.
  • Between 2008 and 2017, total township revenues in actual dollars increased 29.5 percent. In constant, or inflation-adjusted, dollars, total township revenues increased 9.8 percent over this 10-year period.
  • In the west central region of the state, which includes Douglas County, 222 townships reported total revenues in 2017 that increased 1.6 percent and totaled $37.6 million, accounting for 11.6 percent of total town revenues. Total expenditures in this region decreased 7 percent and totaled $35.8 million, accounting for 11.7 percent of total town expenditures. Debt service in the region increased 25.0 percent and totaled $2.2 million, accounting for 16.7 percent of total town debt service.

The bottom line: Many townships have significant populations and manage their budgets efficiently. All of them make important decisions with taxpayer dollars. And townships have clout. A total of 10,559 township residents in Douglas County voted in the Nov. 6 election, representing 58 percent of the turnout. That’s something that Legislature should consider while making decisions that impact rural Minnesota.

Reprinted with permission from November 14, 2018, Echo Press, Alexandria, MN.

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14 Dec
By: MAT Staff 0

MNDNR Parks and Trails Applications

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, 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, and other details can be found on the DNR Web site at mndnr.gov or on the following program links:

Outdoor Recreation Grant Program
 (Updated for 2019)
Federal Recreational Trail Program (Updated for 2019)
Regional Trail Grant Program (Updated for 2019)
Local Trail Connections Grant Program (Updated for 2019)

 

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23 Aug
By: MAT Staff 0

MAT Announces David Hann as New Executive Director

The Minnesota Association of Townships is excited to announce that David W. Hann has been chosen as its new Executive Director.

David and his wife Anne are residents of Eden Prairie. They have four adult children and seven grandchildren.  He is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College with a degree in Religion and did graduate work at the University of Chicago Divinity School. He volunteered for service in the U.S. Army while in college and served a year in Vietnam. After college, he had a long career as a senior executive for a food manufacturing and distribution business. He was elected to three terms on the Eden Prairie School Board and served four terms in the Minnesota State Senate. While in the Senate, he served on the following Committees: Agriculture, Education, Judiciary, Finance, and Rules and was Chairman of the Health and Human Services Committee. He was elected by his peers in his last term to serve as the Senate Minority Leader.

“I am excited to begin work with the Minnesota Association of Townships. The Association provides a vital service in support of local township government. More and more today, there are efforts to drive decision making and governance to larger and more centralized authorities. For those of us who believe that this trend needs to be resisted, the Minnesota Association of Townships plays a critical role. By making sure townships have access to the resources they need and defending their interests in the state legislature, MAT is assuring the continuing effectiveness of local township governance and the preservation of an essential part of American life.”

David’s official start date at MAT is September 4. He will be introduced to members at the Legislative & Research meeting in St. Cloud on September 19-20.

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13 Aug
By: MAT Staff 0

Data Request from American Transparency

Townships across the state recently began receiving a data request from a group called American Transparency, (Minnesota@OpenTheBooks.com ) requesting employee income and other financial information under the Minnesota Data Practices Act. The organization is a private company operated out of Florida, that collects government data for publication on its website. The group is engaged in a nationwide data collection operation.

First, remember that Minnesota Townships outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area are not subject to the State’s Data Practices Act because of its complexity and townships’ lack of full-time staff to comply with the Act. Townships outside the Twin Cities area are not required to respond to this request, but your township board should decide what, if anything, they choose to send.

Townships in the Twin Cities area that are subject to the Data Practices Act may need to respond, depending on their policies for the format or method of data requests.These townships should rely on their township attorney for guidance in complying with data requests.

Townships are not required to produce any new data or compile the data in the format or method requested. Townships may send the data they already possess after redacting sensitive information such as Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, home addresses, personal phone numbers, the deductions in any paycheck, or other information deemed to be not public.

Non-metro Townships may charge a fee for the compilation of data, including the clerk’s time to meet the request. Non-metro townships may ask the money be deposited in advance, with any surplus returned when the response to the data request is complete.

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06 Feb
By: MAT Staff 0

Beware – Email Phishing Scams Sent to Towns!

MAT has received several reports of fraudulent emails asking the recipient to transfer money from the town’s account. The emails appear to be from another town officer but were not sent by the officer listed in the sender line. Town officers should verify email requests for money transfers, passwords, or other private information in-person or by phone with the alleged sender of the email, if ever faced with such a request. Remember, the information in an email, such as the person listed as the sender, can be misrepresented – just like the return address on a letter can be misrepresented.

“Phishing” is the practice of sending fraudulent emails to induce the recipient to reveal private information, like passwords, or to take an action that will harm the recipient. For more information, see Federal Trade Commission’s webpage on the subject, and the FBI’s information on computer security. Unfortunately, no amount of computer security can relieve us from remaining cautious and careful when using online resources, including emails that appear to be legitimate.

MAT’s 2018 Spring Short Course presentation for Clerks & Treasurers will also include basic information about computer and internet security.

 

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01 Feb
By: MAT Staff 0

Poison Hemlock now added to Updated 2018 Noxious Weeds List

See the commissioner’s order on this page approving NWAC’s recommendation for poison hemlock.  It is now a Prohibited Noxious Weed on the Eradicate List.  CAI’s, townships and cities make sure you let your constituents know about this change to the weed list.  State agencies should also pass this information to their field offices.  Also, remember that the 25 varieties of Japanese Barberry that were Specially Regulated are now Restricted Noxious Weeds.

Commissioner Order Noxious Weed List 2018_Signed

2018 MN Noxious Weed List Fact Sheet

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