News Categories: General News

19 Jan
By: MAT Staff 0

Local Board of Appeals and Equalization Training

Townships hold the power to conduct Local Boards of Appeal and Equalization (LBAE) meetings, so long as they follow the requirements listed in Minnesota Statutes Chapter 274. Part of these requirements includes training for the members of the LBAE. To comply with the training requirements, the board must have a member who participated in the training within the last four (4) years. If not, the board must have a member complete the training by February 1st or lose its power to the county for 2 years.

The board may participate in the training by following either of the following links:

  1. https://mntownships.org/training-events/#1513789739831-0182b6cd-d03f
  2. https://www.revenue.state.mn.us/board-appeal-and-equalization-training

If the town is unsure whether the members have complied with the training requirements, they may either take the training or review this document and determine if an officer for the township is listed on the roster.

 

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13 Jan
By: MAT Staff 0

State Auditor releases the 2021 CTAS Update

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

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

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

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

CTAS 2021 highlights include:

General

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

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

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

Payroll Module

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

Indebtedness Module

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

Investments Module

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

Reports Module

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

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

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

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

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05 Jan
By: MAT Staff 0

IRS Issues Standard Mileage Rates for 2021

IR-2020-279, December 22, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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02 Dec
By: MAT Staff 0

Local Road Improvement Program Application Info

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

How Much may a Town Receive from LRIP?

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

What is a Project?

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

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

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

How does a Township Apply for LRIP?

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

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

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01 Dec
By: MAT Staff 0

Holding the March Annual Meeting 2021 & COVID-19

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

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

2020 Annual Conference Videos Available Now

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

 

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

 

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

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25 Nov
By: MAT Staff 0

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources – 2021 Grant Programs

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

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

Outdoor Recreation Grant Program

Natural and Scenic Area Program

Federal Recreational Trail Program

Regional Trail Grant Program

Local Trail Connections Grant Program

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16 Nov
By: MAT Staff 0

Designate Polling Place & Return to In-Person Voting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10 Nov
By: MAT Staff 0

2020 Minnesota Election Update (Nov 10)

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

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

 

MN Senate

Before the Election: GOP Majority, 35 to 32.

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

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

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

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

 

MN House

Before the election: DFL Majority 75 to 59

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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