News Categories: General News

16 Apr
By: MAT Staff 0

Towns Need DUNS Number & SAM Registration

To receive funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), all local governments must have a valid DUNS number and be registered in the System for Award Management (SAM). Here is a list of local governments who have a valid, verified DUNS number on file with MMB and those we could not verify. Please note, local governments may have a valid DUNS number that MMB was not able to verify. It is important to note that local governments must complete BOTH steps – getting a DUNS number, and then registering it in SAMs.

As soon as possible, ALL local governments should:

  1. Ensure your entity has a valid DUNS number. A DUNS number is a unique nine-character number used to identify an organization and is issued by Dun & Bradstreet. The federal government uses the DUNS number to track how federal money is allocated. A DUNS number is required prior to registering with the SAM database.

 

Registering for a DUNS number is free of charge.

To verify that your DUNS number is valid, or to register for a  DUNS number, please visit https://fedgov.dnb.com/webform/ or call 1-866-705-5711.

 

  1. Ensure the entity has an active SAM registration. SAM is the official government-wide database to register with in order to do business with the U.S. government. All Federal financial assistance recipients must register on SAM.gov and renew their SAM registration annually to maintain an active status to be eligible to receive Federal financial assistance. There is no charge to register or maintain your entity SAM registration.

If an entity does not have an active SAM registration, please visit, SAM.gov to begin the entity registration or renewal process. Please note that SAM registration can take up to three weeks; delay in registering in SAM could impact timely payment of funds.
Click here for a quick overview for SAM registration

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14 Apr
By: MAT Staff 0

COVID-19 and Operating the Township (04/14)

April 14th 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 May 14, 2021, 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.
  • 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 and people continue to be vaccinated, Governor Walz has issued Executive Order 21-11 (Found here) which restricts 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 March 15th at 12:00 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, so long as social distancing is adhered to. Other types of usages for town amenities can be up to 50% of the town hall capacity with a maximum of 250 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 doorknobs, and provide assistance in encouraging social distancing.

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 for celebrations or found here for seated gatherings.

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 boards 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 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.

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 a 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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29 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

American Rescue Plan Act Information

On March 11th, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (The Act) into law. The Act provides stimulus to individuals, businesses, and governments to assist in the COVID-19 response. Several provisions in The Act are of interest to townships.

Local Government Relief:

$19.5 Billion, split evenly between all counties and municipalities in the US. In Minnesota specifically, it will receive $2 billion to local units in MN. More specifically, $350 Million will be provided to “non-entitlement units,” which are most cities and towns under 50,000 people.

The $350 million will be distributed based on population share, the amount per township will not exceed 75% of the township’s budget. The total estimation for townships can be found here.

The total disbursement will be split in half. The first half will be sent 60 days after March 11th. The State will distribute funding 30 days after reception; however, the manner is not yet known, and information on much of spending, totals, and timelines are not certain yet. States may extend the dissemination up to 120 days. The second half distributed 12 months after the first distribution.

The funds are given broader eligible uses from the federal level than the allowed uses for funds in the CARES Act. These funds may be used for any costs incurred between March 3rd, 2021, and December 31st, 2024. However, it is possible that the State may further limit this spending. Specific eligibility from the federal level are as follows:

  • Assistance to households, small businesses, and non-profits to aid in response to the COVID-19:
  • 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:
      • These are units with a specified focus like Joint Powers Agreements:
    • State:
    • Tribal organizations:

Some costs that the American Rescue Plan Act specifically said are ineligible include:

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

There are three other key notes:

  1. The State may change several issues, e.g., distribution method, the amount provided, the timeline for spending, and what the funds may be spent on:
  2. There will be, but there is currently no guidance from the State on the uses, similar to what was provided under the CARES Act: and
  3. There will be a reporting requirement to the Federal Treasury Secretary.

(Found in Section 9901)

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 Towns were not provided reimbursement for the extra costs they incurred due to the Act. However, the American Rescue Plan Act has provided relief to townships. For more information on the FFCRA, please read this poster.

(Found in Section 1108)

Firefighter Grants:

$300 million for assistance to firefighter grants.

(Found in Section 4013)

 

 

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25 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

Spring Short Course Videos & Handouts Available Now

The 2021 Spring Short Courses are finishing up the first week of classes.  This year all classes were held through a Zoom Webinar and all classes are being recorded for future viewings.

Videos of the presentations will be available up to a week after the scheduled workshop.  We will post them as soon as the video is ready.

All videos, handouts and other materials are found in the Training Events section of our website under the Agenda & Presentation tab of the Spring Short Courses box. Use this link to take you straight there!

You will notice that some of the videos will take you to YouTube.  MAT now has a YouTube Channel!  This new feature is in its infancy, but look for more content down the road.

MAT’s YouTube Channel

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18 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

Announcement of New MAT Executive Director

We are excited to announce Jeff Krueger has accepted the position of Executive Director of the Minnesota Association of Townships. Jeff is a supervisor in New Market Township in Scott County and has former experience as a small business owner and leading efforts in Scott County with leadership efficiency.
“I’m eager and honored to help MAT and officers move forward with our mission, as MAT provides a vital service by making sure townships have access to the resources they need. In the coming weeks and months, I’ll be reaching out and am eager for input and suggestions on how to best provide leadership and service to advance our priorities.”
Jeff is an avid fisherman and hunter and has been married to his wife, Shelly, for 28 years. He will begin his new role on March 29.
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04 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

The New MS4 Permit: How to Meet the New Permit Requirements

The Minnesota Erosion Control Association (MECA) will host a virtual workshop on how to meet the new requirements in the reissued MS4 permit on Thursday, March 25, 2021 (9 AM – 12:30 PM). Several MS4s will share how they have either already implemented or know how they will implement practices to meet the new requirements. For more information and to register, visit MECA’s online registration page or print the registration form.

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16 Feb
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 April 6, April 20, 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)

Listen to the Township Tuesday Call on April 6, 2021

Listen to the Township Tuesday Call on March 16, 2021

Listen to the Township Tuesday Call on March 2, 2021

(Recordings are now available for a year!)

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02 Feb
By: MAT Staff 0

Comment on Upcoming DNR Projects

Townships have the opportunity to provide input for several upcoming DNR projects. Comments can be made to two projects through February 15th, and these projects are the Outdoor Recreation Task Force (ORTF) and a Statewide Off-Highway Motorcycle (OHM) trails master plan. Further information on either can be found below:

Outdoor Recreation Task Force:

This task force aims to provide actionable recommendations to the DNR and Explore Minnesota on how to coordinate and advance outdoor recreation work statewide more effectively. The ORTF has been meeting since April 2020 to create recommendations that enhance the state’s outdoor offerings. The task force’s goal is to propose thoughtful ideas that connect more Minnesotans to the health and wellness benefits of outdoor recreation, improve access to outdoor recreation and benefit the state’s economy by boosting recreation-related businesses.

The sample draft of the ORTF’s recommendations (found here) explicitly addresses the ORTF’s goals. These recommendations are important to townships because the task force may seek cooperation with affected townships. If the town would like to provide input, they may complete the linked form.

Statewide Off-Highway Motorcycle Trails:

The DNR is beginning a masterplan of the OHM trails. Part of this initial process is to provide comments regarding the desired types and locations of additional trails, any concerns about OHM trails, and related issues. Both OHM riders and nonriders are encouraged to share their insights.

Further, townships are also encouraged to provide input on potential opportunities or challenges related to OHM recreation in their area at this link. Issues that may face towns include:

-Location relative to the right-of-way:

-Usage of town roads: and

-Township cooperation.

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02 Feb
By: MAT Staff 0

1099 and W2 Filing and Recording Issues Assistance

There have been several changes to tax filing and recording issues that have provided confusion. MAT has provided several documents as well as a podcast to assist in this filing and to indicate what is recorded.

A podcast to assist in the filing

Reporting Tax Forms W-2 and 1099 Online–Outline from a town clerk’s point of view.

W2Online–Outline from the Social Security Administration.

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27 Jan
By: MAT Staff 0

March Annual Meeting Guidelines Call Recording

March Annual Meetings will be different this year due to the ongoing pandemic and Emergency Executive Orders from Governor Walz limiting in-person participation at events,

GUIDELINES: The Minnesota Association of Townships recommends steps for conducting the annual meeting (and election, if applicable), found on this MAT website page here: https://mntownships.org/news/holding-the-march-annual-meeting-2021-covid-19/

CONFERENCE CALL: In addition, township officials were invited to join MAT General Counsel Steve Fenske and additional MAT staff for a conference call discussion (with plenty of time for questions and answers) regarding facilitating March Annual Meetings.

WHAT: MAT Conference Call via Zoom regarding facilitating March Annual Meetings

WHEN: Wednesday, January 27, at 11 AM (see recording below)

Listen to the Recording of the Conference Call here!
Password:  =6WvATZy

The documents referred to throughout the meeting: this packet.

Please contact the MAT office anytime if we can be of any assistance.

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