News Categories: General News

20 Nov
By: MAT Staff 0

COVID-19 and Operating the Township (11/20)

November 20 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: Dec. 14, 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: No, it is not possible to rent or allow public use of town facilities or amenities that are for the purpose of organized activities. However, some other amenities may be allowed and are subject to guidance issued by the MN Dept. of Health.
  • 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:

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Minnesota, Governor Walz has issued Executive Order 20-99 (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 November 20th at 11:59 pm and ends December 18th at 11:59 pm. 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 not make the the town hall or other amenity available for public use during this Order. The Order prohibits social gathers among people of different households, and prohibits any venue from being used for a social gathering that is not a wedding, funeral, or religious service.

However, 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

 

 

Read More
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! By December 31 each year, townships must designate by ordinance or resolution a polling place for each precinct.

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.

Read More
16 Nov
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 December 1, and December 15, 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 November 17, 2020

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)

Read More
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.

Read More
06 Nov
By: MAT Staff 0

MATIT Workers’ Comp Invoices & Audit Forms mailed early

Please be watching for your envelope that looks like the one below.  MATIT is sending out the Workers’ Compensation Invoices and Audit forms on Friday November 6th, 2020.  Please make sure that if your clerk has not received it by November 20th to contact our office.

Thank you

 

Minnesota Association of Townships Insurance and Bond Trust

P.O. Box 415

805 Central Ave E

St. Michael Mn 55376

Read More
30 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

Notice: Changes to Receiving Absentee Ballots

Rules related to absentee ballots have changed due to a decision from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals issued Thursday, Nov. 29. In summary, the rule is: Absentee ballots must be received on election day, by 3 pm for in-person returns, and 8 pm for mailed-in returns. Absentee ballots received later than the listed deadlines must be identified, separated, segregated, and otherwise maintained and preserved, so that the ballots can be excluded from the final totals.

Also based on this ruling, the town board of canvass returns to the original meeting dates, which means a town board of canvass must meet between 3 and 7 days after the election (November 6-13).

In August 2020, a Minnesota State Court issued an order that extended the time in which absentee ballots could be received and counted. The State Court ordered that absentee ballots completed on or before Election Day, could be received and processed up to seven days after the election. See LaRose v. Simon, A20-1040 (Minn. Aug. 18, 2020). However, the State Court order was challenged in Federal court, which led the Federal 8th Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse the State Court order on the time-period to count absentee ballots Carson v. Simon, No. 20-3139 (8th Cir. Oct. 29, 2020. The Federal Court held that the State Court did not have authority to extend the time for counting absentee ballots because the Legislature provided a statute on the issue.

The segregated ballots will be held until further instructions are issued by the Secretary of State’s Office. The current guidance on handling of absentee ballots is found here: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/election-administration-campaigns/election-administration/absenteemail-ballot-instructions/ .

The Legislature had added one extra day to count ballots in, allowing for a total of two days after the election to count ballots. This was provided by the Legislature and Governor in Session Law, 2020 Laws 77, § 1, subdivision 2(3). The Federal Court left that law intact, so election judges have until November 5 to count ballots that were received on-time.

As of Friday, October 30, 2020, its is too late for absentee ballots placed in the mail to arrive on time and be counted. Voters who have placed an absentee ballot in the mail may track it here: https://mnvotes.sos.state.mn.us/AbsenteeBallotStatus.aspx .

If a voter’s ballot is not received by election day, the voter may vote in-person absentee at an early voting location, or may vote in-person on election day at their local polling place, the county election office, or other location authorized to administer voting for that voter.

Read More
29 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

Notice: Voter Assistance Law Update

Following a decision from the Minnesota Supreme Court on Oct. 28, 2020, the rules related to voter assistance have again changed. In summary, the new rule is this: Election judges should allow a voter to receive help in marking his or her ballot from any person the voter chooses, but the helper cannot be the voter’s employer, and agent or employee of the voter’s employer, or an officer or agent of the voter’s labor union. There is no limit on the number of voters a person may assist in marking a ballot. However, a person may help only up to three people in returning an absentee ballot.

In the recent case, DSCC v. Republican Party of Minnesota, A20-1017 (Minn. Oct. 28, 2020), the Minnesota Supreme Court considered whether two Minnesota statutes, Minn. Stat. § 204C.15, subd. 1, and 203B.08, subd. 1, were valid based on alleged inconsistencies with Federal election laws. The two statutes at issue limit the number of voters an individual may assist in voting. In August 2020, a Minnesota District Court Judge issued a temporary injunction prohibiting enforcement of those two Minnesota laws because the Judge believed the plaintiffs were likely to succeed in their cases.

One of the statutes, Minn. Stat. § 204C.15, subd. 1, says in relevant part, “The person who assists the voter shall, unaccompanied by an election judge, retire with that voter to a booth and mark the ballot as directed by the voter. No person who assists another voter as provided in the preceding sentence shall mark the ballots of more than three voters at one election.” This statute indicates that an individual, other than an election judge, may help up to three people in marking their ballots during an election. Election judges were and continue to be allowed to assist voters in marking their ballots upon the voter’s request.

The Minnesota Supreme Court held this statute is probably inconsistent with Federal election law and should not be enforced. Therefore, election judges must allow all voters to receive help in marking their ballot from any person other than the voter’s employer, an agent of the employer, or an agent of the voter’s labor union.

The second statute, Minn. Stat. § 203B.08, subd. 1, says in relevant part, “An agent may deliver or mail the return envelopes of not more than three voters in any election.” This statute allowed an individual to help up to three people in marking or returning their absentee ballots in an election.

The Minnesota Supreme Court held this statute is probably consistent with Federal election law and should be enforced. The Supreme Court vacated the temporary injunction on this part, so election judges should enforce the prohibitions of Minn. Stat. § 203B.08, subd. 1. A person may assist up to three people in returning absentee ballots.

Read More
26 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

2020 Bonding Bill Local Road Improvement Program Information

The following a message from Marc Briese, the programs engineer for MnDOT’s State Aid for Local Transportation. The message is meant to notify townships about the Local Road Improvement Program which provides money to townships and other local governments to improve town roads. This notification provides towns with information on how to enter into the program.

 

As most of you probably know, the House passed a bonding bill on Wednesday, October 14 and the Senate followed suit the following day on Thursday.  And I’m happy to report that the Governor signed the bill into law on Wednesday, October 21, 2020!

The bill provides substantial funding for local projects, including $75 million in Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP) funds for a competitive solicitation, $30 million for the Local Bridge Replacement Program (LBRP), and $3 million for the Safe Routes to School Program (SRTS). It also includes more than $165 million in earmarks to more than 25 local road and bridge projects across the state. Below is a brief summary of each category of funding along with anticipated timelines.

Local Road Improvement Program (LRIP)

  • The bonding bill that was signed into law includes $75 million for the competitive LRIP program. I will be working with the LRIP advisory committee over the next several months on developing a solicitation, accepting applications, and selecting projects to be funded.  I have received commitments from most members of the LRIP advisory committee, but still have a couple spots that need to be finalized.  I anticipate releasing a solicitation in 2-3 months, at which time I will inform the counties, cities, and townships.

    The previous 2018 solicitation had a $1 million grant cap for counties and state aid cities and a $750,000 cap for townships and non-state aid cities.  We will again have a grant cap for this solicitation, though it may not be at the same dollar amounts, so applicants may need to identify additional matching funds from their state aid accounts or other sources. Finally, I would remind potential applicants that we once again will require counties to sponsor projects in townships and non-state aid cities. So townships and small cities should be in contact with their county engineer on potential applications.

    See the LRIP Program webpage and LRIP PowerPoint for more information on LRIP.”

  • The bonding bill includes another ~$166 million in earmarked LRIP and LBRP projects.  I plan to send a “selection letter” to each earmark recipient with more information on suggested next steps, info on demonstration of full funding to MMB, and considerations and timing for accessing the funds and executing grant agreements. I plan to send the letters in the next couple weeks.

Local Bridge Replacement Program (LBRP)

  • The bonding bill includes $30 million for LBRP. When combined with the MVLST that we received in August, we will have about $41.2 million.  The waiting list contains more requests than that, so we may not be able to fund all of those projects.  Patti Loken is working on prioritizing projects for funding now, and will be in touch with DSAEs and local agencies in the next several weeks.

    See the LBRP Program webpage and LBRP PowerPoint for more information on LBRP.

Safe Routes to School (SRTS)

  • The bonding bill includes $3 million for SRTS infrastructure projects.  The State Aid Programs section will work cooperatively with the MnDOT Safe Routes to School Coordinator from the Office of Transit and Active Transportation to develop a solicitation. More information will be forthcoming in the weeks and months to come.

    See the SRTS Program webpage and SRTS PowerPoint for more information on the SRTS program.

Read More
23 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

Training on CARES Act Reporting – Recording & Slides

We know there are many questions about CARES Act reporting. MAT is offering an additional training by leaders of the state’s department of Minnesota Management and Budget.

A Zoom webinar with a presentation along with questions/answer session occurred on Friday, October 23rd.  Please use the links below to view the webinar and/or download the presentation.

Friday, October 23 at 2 PM

Click to view the webinar
Passcode: 3$F&DwWE

Click here to view or download the slide presentation

 

Read More
12 Oct
By: MAT Staff 0

CARES Act Resources & Frequently Asked Questions

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. Local governments can use the funding to support services and grants to businesses, hospitals, and individuals impacted by the pandemic. The specific aid amounts for each township, based on 2018 population, can be found here.

In order to receive these funds, towns should visit the Minnesota Department of Revenue special page with more information and instructions of how to apply for the funding here. But to summarize, 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 work to prevent those funds from intermingling with other township fund, examples on how to do so can be found in the CARES Act FAQ section. Towns with under 200 residents still apply for the 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.

In general, the CARES Act assistance can only be used to cover expenses that:

  1. are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19);
  2. were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and
  3. were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.


CARES Act FAQ:
There a several frequently asked questions that have arisen, two documents exist to aid towns in addressing these costs:

Remember that the town needs a SWIFT ID and DUNS number. If not known by the town can find out the SWIFT ID number by emailing EFTHelpline.MMB@state.mn.us. The town can apply for a DUNS or SAMS number by visiting this page, and more information can be found in the state CRF distribution training slideshow found below. To obtain a DUNS number, follow this link and then register here.

Costs Covered with the CARES Act Funds:
As towns have started to receive CARES Act funds, they have also began spending some of these funds. Below are some examples of costs that towns have covered with the CARES Act, remember that each of these have satisfied all three factors that are required by the CARES Act to spend these funds. A resolution, resolving to spend CARES Act funds can be found here.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for employees, officers, and town meeting attendees:
  • Increased Election costs, such as, increased pay for election judges, PPE, Plexiglas shields, increased number of voting booths, etc:
  • American with Disabilities Act compliant handicap accesses for different buildings, or changed access routes to aid in social distancing:
  • Automatic amenities to reduce the number of frequently touched objects, these amenities include doors, bathroom sinks, soap dispensers, hand sanitizer dispensers, toilets, etc:
  • Audio/Visual displays for meetings to help reduce need to pass paper or materials, or to comply with the Open Meeting Law:
  • Increased payroll expenses such as increased janitorial services or costs related to researching how to mitigate the spread and properly conduct the township through COVID-19:
  • Broadband infrastructure or hotspots that can be deployed this year, and was not already budgeted for as of March 27th 2020:
  • Computers or tablets for remote work and access or meeting participation:
  • Telephone or video meeting service costs:
  • Donations to food shelves or other social support programs:
  • Grant program to local businesses or individuals. Since grants are not commonly given by towns, it is strongly recommended that the town works with their private town attorney or in cooperation with the county that the town is located in, if such a program is established, in building this system:

Towns may also transfer excess funds to other local governments, a sample resolution doing so can be found here.

Help America Vote Act CARES Act Grant:
The state has also received funds specifically for elections, which was received by the Secretary of State, two primary qualifications must be met for a State to utilize these funds. First, distributions made to states include a 20% matching requirement by a State receiving the funds, which means that a State, receiving these funds must also spend 20% of the HAVA money used to secure the HAVA Grant. Second, HAVA requires ‘projects’ to exist for at least two years to receive the funds. However, the CARES act requires all money to be used or planned to be used by the end of 2020. To solve this potential contradiction, the extra money from HAVA is only used for the 2020 elections, and the subsequent care of materials, such as ballots.

These funds are to be distributed by the Secretary of State through the counties, so long counties agree to a “fair, equitable, and mutually agreeable” distribution plan with the municipalities within the county. So, if the town would like to learn how to apply these funds to their election, please reach out to the county to get some clarification. More information on the HAVA Cares Act Grant can be found here.

CTAS Reporting:
The linked document contains the reporting requirements in order to report these funds on CTAS.

CARES Act Reporting:
Towns over 200 residents that receive CARES Act funds must complete periodic reports (The report form can be found here). Reports have been due 7 business days after the end of the month (e.g., August 11th and September 9th, October 9th, and November 10th). The final report is due 7 business days from November 15th (November 24th). If you received distributions prior to the end of August, you must report for August and the months prior, if you received distributions after, there is no need to complete this first report. You may review the instructions and report to the MMB and COVID-19 accountability office here.

August 25 CARES ACT Webinar: For information regarding this form, please watch/listen to the August 25th webinar found here.

ZOOM CARES Act Teleconference Calls:
On July 8th, a Zoom conference call with leaders at the MN Department of Revenue to explain the application process and answer questions.

Listen to the CARES Act Information Zoom Teleconference & Presentation Here:
Password:   8q&4m^P6
Click to view PowerPoint used in teleconference: State CRF Distribution Training

On August 4th, a second Zoom conference call with Minnesota Management and Budget experts to discuss the procedures and take questions.

Listen/View the August 4, 2020 CARES Act Information Zoom Teleconference
Password:     cv7%TNG?
Click to view PowerPoint used in Aug 4 Zoom teleconference: COVID-19 Funding Reporting Presentation (Aug 4 Call)

Read More
Website Design Developed By AE2S Communications