News Categories: General News

03 Apr
By: MAT Staff 0

MAT Answers Questions hosting Conference Calls with Townships

The Minnesota Association of Townships held three conference calls with Townships around the state on Wednesday and Thursday.  MAT Executive Director David Hann led the call with Karl-Christian Johannessen, MAT Attorney (Wednesday) and Steve Fenske, MAT General Counsel (Thursday) also providing information and answers in regards to township operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wednesday’s conference call was with Districts 1, 2, 3 and 6 from 4-5pm.  70 people called in. (Listen to Wednesday conference call)

Thursday’s first conference call was with Districts 4, 5, 7 and 8 from 4-5pm. 87 people called in.  (Listen to Thursday 4-5pm conference call)

Thursday’s second conference call was with Districts 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 from 6-7pm.  141 people called in.  (Listen to Thursday 6-7pm conference call)

MAT Conference Call Questions from Townships

(PDF of MAT Conference Call Questions Summary)

Township Operations

Please see the News Alert, COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Operating the Township as it contains detailed information.

What kind of work can townships do during this time?
Road maintenance, including; grading, repairing, barricading roads after closure. If the road supervisor goes out to inspect and do their road tours, that is allowed – To maintain proper social distancing, do not ride in the same vehicle but rather take separate vehicles. Posting notice of remote meetings: The person hosting the meeting is allowed to leave their house to go post the notice of the meeting. Signing checks: one person (oftentimes the chair) can sign the check during this time as an official declaration. If they want to continue to sign with 3 people, you can do that. The town may also switch to electronic payments. Looking into this process and learning how to set it up may be beneficial.

Can towns declare emergency?
No, towns do not have the ability to declare emergencies. If FEMA requires an emergency declaration, the town can pass a resolution stating there is an emergency because the Governor has declared a state wide emergency under Executive Order 20-01, and that the Center for Disease Control has labeled COVID-19 as a health pandemic.

We had elections in March to replace our chair, how do we sign the card?
The clerk and treasurer can sign. The most senior supervisor may also sign the document.

How do new supervisors get sworn in?
Any notary or any elected officer will administer the oath of office. The statute says the person elected has 10 days after they have received their certificate. It’s okay if they have not received their certificate of election yet. Have the newly elected person do the oath on the phone with the clerk. The statute is ambiguous if this oath can be administered remotely, so go ahead and do it as a telephone call. If you want, reaffirm it later once in-person meetings are allowed.

The township office is closed, but can I go into the office and do prep work?
No, not during the Stay-at-Home order. If you feel fine that you will not have contact with other people, use discretion and go ahead to the office to gather the materials that you need, print the checks you need. Anything you possibly can do at home, stay home and do that. So far, we have not seen enforcement action of the stay at home order. But, everything we’re doing is to help friends, neighbors and the community slow the spread of COVID-19.

Can we send documents, have it be printed out, sign the paper, then scan it in again?
Yes.

How do we handle the road tour?
Supervisors can drive around by themselves, in separate vehicles. Take notes of what you want to address, and then at the next meeting have the discussion based on your notes. It may be a longer process, but it is manageable.

Declarations:
It is not required by law. MAT drafted a resolution to acknowledge the rules. Print it off, send it around in the meeting packet and find a way to share the packet with the public. Let them know on a call that you are trying to share the information.

How do we keep records safe?
They do not have to be in a town hall. You may store records at home and one you can return to the town hall, file them later.

 

Paying Bills & Signing Checks

How do townships handle paying bills and signing checks?
There is no requirement in law needing 3 signatures; it can be the board chair. To pay bills, a teleconference meeting is required.

Does it have to be the chairman who signs a check?
It is generally prudent for the chair to do it, but they can delegate it to the clerk or treasurer. So long as the check is approved in the minutes, then it can be signed by any of those.

Will the bank object if we don’t have 2-3 signatures?
Contact the bank, give them our updates, and ask for leeway on the policies. The bank cannot look for three signatures – they never look for all 3 signatures. So, the check will go through fine with only 1 signature.

Our accounting system needs a monthly claims approval report signed by all the supervisors, how do we handle that remotely?
The accounting system doesn’t require 3 signatures – that is your internal process and not the law, and you can change that process. For example, you can change it to be a voice vote. Or you can hang on to the report until an in-person meeting. The town board is able to set up electronic signatures on documents.

Bills from Vendors
Don’t worry about being late paying a vendor – call them and explain your circumstances. Reassure them you are getting together for a meeting.

Payroll:
Because of the wage theft clause, you must pay payroll on time. You do not need to have a board meeting. See MN Statute 471.38 subd. 3.

In order to pay bills, do we need approval by the board?
Baseline, yes, but at certain times like this you can give authority to the person who needs to spend the money, for example the road manager who needs to replace a tire on a piece of equipment now. You can provide a cap/maximum for the purpose of individual spending, then they will bring the claim and get reimbursed.

Can we pay payroll and postpone the rest of the meeting until May?
Yes, but you must use a telephone meeting. Payroll must get done.

 

Holding Meetings

Is a town legally obligated to hold a town meeting every month?
No, if there is no pressing business. Yes, if they need to pay bills, then they need to have a meeting.

Is it an absolute necessity that we cannot have in-person meetings?
No, but you are strongly encouraged not to meet in person. Attorneys from other cities have also read the executive order that we cannot meet in person. There will not be aggressive enforcement, but it is intended to limit the person-to-person contact that spreads the virus.

The board chair makes the decision to meet remotely.
They introduce a resolution at the first meeting, declaring that they will meet via teleconferencing. A sample resolution enacting teleconference meetings during this can be found at https://mntownships.org/information-library/ or as document number ES2000 in the information library.

The chairperson is insistent that we have an in-person meeting…What if the Stay-at-Home order is extended?
The other supervisors can simply not show up. They will be abiding by the Governor’s executive order to keep everyone safe. The meeting can be held by teleconference or postponed.

We’re supposed to have a meeting on April 14th, can we have that meeting with proper social distancing by meeting outside if it’s nice weather?
If the stay-at-home order is not extended past April 10th at 5pm, when it is scheduled to be lifted, you may meet, but we are cautioning you to plan for a future extension of the order. It is better to plan a telephone meeting.

Can we have meetings by email, replying to the clerk as a vote?
No. ‘Chain meetings’ are not allowed.

The public packet
…is the extra copy of everything that the board gets before the meeting. If possible, provide it to the public on your website, DropBox, Google Drive, or in another method. Or, make an announcement that you’d like to share the materials and respond to the public with the materials.

How do we build an agenda?
Each supervisor emails the clerk, who compiles them.

 

Local Board of Appeal & Equalization Meeting

Should we have a Board of Local Appeals and Equalization Meeting?
Yes, the statute says you need to meet between April 1st and May 31st. You can accept written appeals. You can hold the meeting remotely by teleconference, and open it to the public.

Certain counties are urging townships to give up on the Board of Equalization meetings.
There is no reason you cannot go ahead, have the meeting, and keep your local control.

Can a board of adjustment date be changed?
Contact the county appraiser who set the date, then ask to change the date. At the meeting that has been currently established, make a motion to change the date. Continue the meeting at the new time. Post a notice before the meeting.

 

Teleconference Meetings

The News Alert “A Guide to Setting up a Teleconference Meeting” contains Documents ES3000 and ES3000A plus the Teleconference Assistance Options for townships.

Do we list a teleconference meeting as a meeting?
Yes, the same requirements apply.

Does the resolution establishing the meeting by telephone need to be done ahead of the meeting, or can it be first on the agenda?
The board chair decides to move to a telephone meeting, then on the call you have it first on the agenda.

Are there a certain number of days to post outside of the town hall, if we’re doing a conference call?
Yes, five days is the regular number of days. Statute says 3 days plus 1 day it is posted plus 1 day of the meeting. The statute provides leeway on this issue, but it says if it is practical, you must allow the public the ability to participate. On the posted notice, include the number of the conference call dial-in number and access code. The location of the meeting has become that phone call, because it’s a virtual location. You need to provide access.

If we post a telephone dial-in number and access code, do we get that ahead of time?
Yes, it can be scheduled in advance. You create an account, and get the conference number and code, which can be used repeatedly for all future meetings. It is your dedicated conference call number for whenever you want to use it.

Does the phone number and code last, or does it change call-to-call?
It depends on the service, but with freeconferencecall.com it will be a unique number for you that does not change or expire.

Our town hall doesn’t have good phone access, does someone have to be at the town hall during the meeting?
No, no one has to be at the town hall, because it is not prudent during the stay-at-home order.

If the regular posting place is inside city hall, which is closed, where do we post a notice?
You may post a notice on the front door of the city hall, or on an outside posting board.

Regarding public hearings on teleconference calls, how do we do it?
Learn how to use the conference call, or postpone the meeting, or petition for a 60-day extension to the 60-day rule.

Because of the increased costs of teleconferencing (although they are fairly minimal), can townships increase the levy after the annual meeting?
Yes, increase your levy before you submit your levy to the county auditor.

How long does the conference call Option B training take?
Approximately 30 minutes on a call. Should the clerk do it? Any one from the township can take on the role.  (more info on the Options)

Can we use zoom?
Yes. Try to get the public involved with a call-in number if they do not have a computer to join a video meeting.

How is it considered an open meeting if we’re on the phone?
The telephone dial-in number and code is going to be listed in your regular meeting posting along with date and time of the meeting, whether that’s a bulletin board or front door. People can see the posting and join the meeting. You can also get the word out in other methods, but the posting is the only legal requirement.

How do I get help setting up a teleconference account?
Option A: If you would like to pursue your own solutions for teleconferencing, see the information included in this guide (ES 3000) about conference call options, posting notice, legal procedures, helpful hints, and more.

Option B: Email OptionB@MNTownships.org. For a one-time cost of $50, MAT’s communications consultants will create a conference call line on your behalf. They will host training calls to train you step-by-step how to invite participants, mute participants, and more. Toll-free numbers are available for additional cost.

Option C: If you’d like your telephone meeting to be fully hosted, email OptionC@MNTownships.org with the date and time of your meeting. You will receive the information for participants to join a conference call, hosted by MAT’s communications consultant. You will be charged a fee of $100 per meeting.

 

Read More
31 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

Additional Teleconference Meeting Options for Townships

MAT recognizes that townships will need to make alternative meeting plans during the COVID-19 public health emergency – and comply with the open meeting law. Townships can – and should – conduct meetings using telephone conference calls. We understand that using new technology could be challenging, and MAT is here to assist townships in their needs. Here are several options that townships may choose to utilize:

 

Option A
Townships create and use a conference call line on their own
. A township can create and use their own conference call line by utilizing commercially available teleconference products. MAT has created this guide, “Township Options for Meeting Remotely, that includes information about posting notice, various teleconference products, and helpful hints for each township to use on your own.

 

Option B
MAT creates the township’s conference call line and provides training.
If additional help is needed to create the township’s conference call account and to use it, MAT will create the township’s conference call account/line, and provide a training on how to administer and host the calls. There is a one-time fee of $50 to MAT. If you’d like to utilize this option, please email OptionB@MnTownships.org.

 

Option C
MAT creates the township’s conference call line and “hosts” your meeting.
If a township would like additional help, MAT’s communications consultant will create your township’s conference call account/numbers, AND host your call/meeting (muting people are requested, etc.). The fee per meeting will be $100 to MAT. If you’d like to utilize this option, please email OptionC@MnTownships.org.

 

Thank you for your service, and please be in touch if we can be of any assistance.

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31 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

NATaT Brief on CARES Act and Broadband-Related Provisions

Below is an analysis of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and funding implications for broadband infrastructure deployment, distance learning, and telehealth services.  It also previews next steps for broadband funding as Congress pivots to a fourth stimulus package focused on the nation’s “recovery” and infrastructure investment.

NATaT Brief on CARES Act and Broadband Provisions

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27 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

MAT Coronavirus Conference Call Recap and Audio

To listen to the conference call, please use this link.  368 Township Officials participated in the Conference Call last evening!

Below is a summary of that conference call with Senator Rich Draheim, MAT Executive Director David Hann, MAT General Counsel Steve Fenske, and MAT Lobbyist Shep Harris:

Recorded on: Thu, 26 Mar 2020 06:05 PM

Summary:  The Legislature met and approved $331 million additional funding for crisis response.

The Legislature adjourned, but leaders will continue work behind the scenes. MAT continues to work with chief authors of transportation bills. Your phone/email advocacy makes a difference.

MAT priorities like broadband funding may see legislative action, but controversial topics like annexation and voluntary driving will probably not be addressed.

Townships are not stopping their operations. There is a MAT news article about how to have teleconference meetings, how to sign a check by one person, and more.

Q&A Article: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Operating the Township

_______________

Senator Draheim:

A bill was passed by the House and Senate today, and will be signed by the Governor. The Governor needs help funding the crisis. The state, through the 3/16 and 3/26 bills, has already appropriated around $550,000,000 of resources towards the pandemic response. Today’s legislation includes public safety, child care centers relief, veterans (Soldier Assistance Fund), food shelves, housing, healthcare, and more segments of state government. There is clarification on what the Governor can and cannot do. Tribal nations will be given up to $11,000,000 and small businesses will receive up to $40,000,000.

What about broadband access funding, in this time of increased demand for distance learning and working remotely?
There is more funding needed to meet 2026 standards, might not be fiber.  5G is not a practical option.  Now is the time for this service, but we’ll see if it’s a priority for the Governor.

Will there be a bonding bill?
The forecasted surplus is almost gone, spent on the COVID-19 crisis and there may not be a good chance of passing a bonding bill.

____________

Steve Fenske, General Counsel (parts of the call that are addressed by the MAT article already posted):

Townships are not stopping their operations. There is a news article with all the topics covered.

Q&A Article: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Operating the Township

How do we hold a meeting?
The goal is safety. During the ‘stay at home’ through April 10, you should not hold an in-person meeting. You can postpone or cancel the meeting. Or, telephone meetings and online meetings are allowed and perfectly acceptable as an open meeting. You may need to figure out technology options.

Pass a resolution allowing teleconference meetings. A sample resolution is in the MNTownships.org Information LibraryES-2000 (PDF Version or Word Document Version) says that the Board is going to have phone meetings for the entirety of the declared emergency. You are supposed to try to allow the public to know about the meeting, a feature for the public to join a call or online meeting. This does not mean we are having emergency meetings – we still have to post notices and information packets.

The township board of supervisors is not classified as ‘essential’ during ‘stay at home’ because they can do their work without in-person meetings.

After ‘stay at home’ you may try in-person meetings again, with the CDC guidelines for healthy social distancing.


How do we sign a check?

Use electronic fund transfers or sign by one person, if the board members approve. More details at Q&A Article: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Operating the Township. You need to keep paying employees to avoid wage theft. You can process payroll for employees without a town meeting.

What if an employee is sick?
Do not discharge someone if they are having to stay home to quarantine themselves or to take care of a family member. Ask the employee to use Paid Time Off, but you cannot have any negative consequences if they need to stay home.

What is essential?
During the Stay at Home: (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.

Do we need to publish a notice in the newspaper that we are not having an in-person meeting?
No, you can choose the ways you want to post about the open meeting.

Could MAT provide a call-in number for meetings and assist with technology?
Try freeconferencecall.com, gotomeeting.com, or zoom.  Services like GoToMeeting are reasonably priced at about $15/month subscription.

What about a public hearing?
You cannot have the meeting in-person during the ‘stay at home’ order. You will need to arrange a way for people to give their comments, either in writing before the meeting or with a call/video method. We know it’s difficult for planning zoning, for example, the 60-day rule is in effect until the Legislature suspends it. If you can postpone the meeting, that would be the easiest.

Can we begin a Board of Equalization and Appeal meeting, and then continue remaining business at a later time?
Yes, and plan a time that works for your county.

Are county recorders considered ‘essential’ during the stay at home?
Email Steve, unsure.

Do we need a local emergency?
No, you do not need to, FEMA knows, but you can pass a declaration if you want.

What is the process for getting reimbursed for coronavirus expenses?
The stimulus package is still being worked out. Document expenses and keep your receipts, then apply for grants from FEMA, similar to weather emergencies.

Steve is available for questions. The MAT office will not be open to the public starting Monday, but they are accessible by phone and email.

________

Shep Harris, lobbyist with Fredrikson & Byron:

The Legislature is adjourned but met for today. A $331,000,000 finance package passed today.

$10,000,000 applies to The Minnesota Investment Fund or Small Cities Development Block Grant – if there is unused money left over from a project, you can issue loans to small businesses, retailers, service providers, or hospitality establishments. You can create new jobs, try to pull in private matching funds, and more.

Sen. Gazelka, Sen. Kent, Rep. Hortman and Rep. Daudt, along with the Governor, agreed to three categories they will address the rest of this session: 1) Crisis response. 2) Topics with general support. (For example, broadband had general support in the Legislature, and may go forward this year. A bonding bill may also get passed). 3) Topics that all 4 leaders agree on. Since MAT issues have had opposition (annexation, voluntary driving, culverts costs being taken care of by private landowners – those probably will not go forward) the legislative leaders and governor have already agreed they will not be addressed.

What are legislators doing now?
They agreed that they will be adjourned until April 14th, unless needed in the meantime and called back by the legislative leaders. Most legislators will be in their home districts, and behind-the-scenes crisis work will get done by the leaders.

Our best bets for MAT priorities are broadband and transportation. Transportation will likely be included in a bonding bill, not a separate transportation bill.

Participate in action/advocacy alerts! We need you to make calls to your legislators. When you see email messages that you can send, please take the time to customize the message and send it in.

The MAT lobbying team and staff are working with our chief authors: Senators Wolgamott, Jasinski, Bruce Anderson are our transportation chief authors, Senjem and Murphy are the bonding committee chairs.

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25 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

Governor Walz announces a “Stay at home” Emergency Executive Order for Minnesota

Moments ago, Governor Walz announced a “Stay at home” Emergency Executive Order:

  • “Stay at home” starts this Friday at midnight for two weeks (March 27 – April 10) to slow the spread of COVID-19 and “buy time” for hospitals. This is subject to extension. This limits people’s travel outside the home – except for essential services. The full, 21-page Emergency Executive Order can be found here.
  • Liquor stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and clinics are deemed “essential” and remain open for service.
  • Schools will be closed until May 4, subject to extension.

Read More
24 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Public Assistance Simplified Application

This Fact Sheet supplements Fact Sheet: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic Emergency Protective Measures and provides an overview of the FEMA Public Assistance application process for recipients and applicants requesting reimbursement related to federal emergency and major disaster declarations for Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). FEMA is simplifying the Public Assistance application and funding process to address the magnitude of this event and allow local officials to receive eligible funding more quickly.

FEMA is simplifying the Public Assistance application process. FEMA is developing a simplified online form applicants can complete, and on which they may explain work activities, answer basic questions, provide limited supporting documentation, and provide a cost estimate. FEMA and the recipient will review this information, follow up with limited requests for additional information if necessary, and award assistance. Recipients will have access to all projects in PA Grants Portal, consistent with the traditional PA process.

The national emergency declaration authorized Public Assistance Category B reimbursement for emergency protective measures. It does not include additional categories of assistance, such as infrastructure repair and replacement, which are needed after typical natural disasters. This enables FEMA to eliminate many application steps that are designed for those categories, including: eliminating exploratory calls, recovery scoping meetings, and most site inspections; and reducing documentation requirements to the minimum needed to support Category B reimbursement.

Recipients are states, tribes, or territories that receive and administer Public Assistance awards. Applicants are state, local, tribal and territorial governments, or eligible private nonprofits, submitting a request for assistance under a recipient’s federal award.

Applicants are empowered to drive their own recovery and directly apply for reimbursement without waiting for FEMA to assign a Program Delivery Manager. FEMA is simplifying the process so applicants may directly apply for assistance through the PA Grants Portal.

As FEMA and recipients implement these changes, FEMA will continue to process and fund Public Assistance projects. Funding is immediately available should state, tribal, territorial or local officials request expedited assistance. Prior to funding, recipients must sign FEMA-State/Tribal/Territorial Agreements, submit signed Federal Grant Applications (SF-424), and update Recipient Public Assistance Administrative Plans. Recipients should start setting up Grants Portal accounts for themselves and applicants at grantee.fema.gov so they can apply for assistance. Once an account is created, Applicants may submit Requests for Public Assistance to begin the application process.

FEMA is working to rapidly scale up the information, tools and technology necessary to provide assistance to all applicants. Eligibility guidance on what FEMA can fund will be updated on the Public Assistance Policy, Guidance, and Factsheets page on FEMA.gov and the COVID-19 page on FEMA.gov. Application support and tutorials are available on the resource tab in PA Grants Portal.

More Information
For more information, visit the following websites:

  1. Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide
  2. FEMA.gov/Coronavirus
  3. Coronavirus (COVID-19) (CDC)

 

Click Here for a PDF of the text above.

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18 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

Coronavirus Updates on the Census and LBAE Meetings

Please read the following document for Information and Resources on federal responses for state, local, and regional government:  Coronavirus Update: 3/16/2020 (The Ferguson Group)


2020 Census

An update on 2020 Census operations has been posted on 2020census.gov:  https://2020census.gov/en/news-events/press-releases/operational-updates.html

 

Local Board of Appeal & Equalization Meetings
As Minnesota responds to COVID-19 we have received many questions on how COVID-19 will affect this year’s local board of appeal and equalization (LBAE) planning and meetings.

It is important to us to provide guidance on how to proceed with LBAE meetings and meet statutory requirements while keeping everyone safe and healthy. It is crucial that each assessor’s office work closely with the local boards in your county as you prepare for LBAE meetings.

The attached memo provides important information you need to know regarding LBAE meetings and COVID-19. All questions in response to the memo should be sent to proptax.bae@state.mn.us. We are currently working on a FAQ webpage that will be posted to our website to assist everyone with additional questions regarding the LBAE process and COVID-19. The link to the FAQ page will be found on our Local Board of Appeal and Equalization page as soon as possible.

Our top priority is to provide guidance to assist with keeping local and county staff, board members, and property owners safe and healthy. Again, we strongly encourage that cities, counties, boards, and the state work together to be sure legal requirements are met and property owners can exercise their right to appeal.

Thank you for your understanding and patience as we move through this unique situation together.

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17 Mar
By: Scott Saloum 0

Governor Walz to Order Temporary Closure of Restaurants, Bars, Other Public Amusement

The Minnesota Department of Health today announced that the number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota has risen to 54, including cases of community transmission with no known travel link. In order to protect the health and safety of Minnesotans as this virus spreads, Governor Walz today will announce the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars to dine-in customers as well as the closure of other places of public accommodation and amusement. This order is effective tomorrow, March 17th at 5:00pm until March 27 at 5:00pm. He will also announce efforts to support workers affected by these closures.

The important actions the Governor is taking include:

  1. A rule closing restaurants and bars to dine-in customers, and closing other places of public accommodation and amusement, including:
    1. Restaurants, food courts, cafes, coffeehouses, and other places of public accommodation offering food or beverage for on-premises consumption. This excludes institutional and in-house food cafeterias for businesses, hospitals, and long-term care facilities;
    2. Bars, taverns, brew pubs, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, clubs, and other places of public accommodation that offer alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption;
    3. Hookah bars, cigar bars, and vaping lounges offering their products for on-premises consumption;
    4. Theaters, cinemas, museums, and indoor and outdoor performance venues;
    5. Gymnasiums, fitness centers, recreation centers, indoors sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities, exercise studios, and spas;
    6. Amusement parks, arcades, bingo halls, bowling alleys, indoor climbing facilities, skating rinks, trampoline parks, and other similar recreational or entertainment facilities;
    7. Facilities of country clubs, golf clubs, boating or yacht clubs, sports or athletic clubs, and dining clubs.

 

  1. Additional executive action to strengthen Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and ensure that affected establishments have benefits available for workers who are not able to work as a result of COVID-19. Specifically, this EO will waive the employer surcharge and allow Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development to pay benefits immediately.

Yesterday, Governor Walz announced the temporary closure of Minnesota K-12 public schools to students in order for school administrators and teachers to make long-term plans for the continuity of education and essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. This action includes provisions to provide care for the children of health care professionals, first responders, and emergency workers, and requires schools to continue providing meals to students in need. On Friday, the Governor declared a peacetime state of emergency in Minnesota, unveiled legislative proposals, and MDH announced community mitigation strategies to combat the spread of COVID-19.

We will continue to keep you and your organization informed as this situation develops.

Take care and wash your hands.

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13 Mar
By: MAT Staff 0

Spring Short Courses are Postponed

Dear Township Officials:

On behalf of the Minnesota Association of Townships Board of Directors, I am writing to let you know that, in the interest of safety of our township officials, staff, and communities, all upcoming Spring Short Courses are postponed until later in the year.

In addition, the remaining District Lobby Days at the Capitol in St. Paul (Districts 4, 9, 10, 12 planned for next week) will be cancelled.

The MAT Board discussed these decisions and consulted with the Minnesota Department of Health on large groups and demographic factors. The health and safety of our township officials and community is our priority.

Our commitment to providing learning opportunities for townships continues.

  • All handouts and presentations from the Spring Short Courses will be available next week in the Training Events section on the MAT website.
  • The League of Minnesota Cities prepared this recorded webinar and resource website for municipalities to prepare for COVID-19.
  • We are working with our Spring Short Course event sites and vendors to figure out future rescheduling plans – and we will communicate those plans when available.

For the latest on COVID-19, please visit www.cdc.gov (Centers for Disease Control) and www.health.state.mn.us (MN Department of Health).

Best regards,

David W. Hann
Executive Director
Minnesota Association of Townships

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05 Feb
By: MAT Staff 0

FY 2019 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program

The FY 2019 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program opened today and is due March 13th.

The program goal is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters with respect to fire and fire-related hazards. Applicants may request funding for operations and safety projects, vehicle acquisition, and regional projects, which should benefit more than one local jurisdiction. Eligible applicants are fire departments, non-affiliated emergency medical service  organizations, and state fire training academies.

There are several changes from previous AFG programs that are outlined below.

Under Micro Grants:

  • Wellness and Fitness is now eligible as a micro and regional grant
  • Modifications to Facilities activities are now eligible as a micro grant

Under Equipment category:

  • Training ‘props’ are limited to $50,000 except for a State Fire Training Academy request
  • Learning Management Systems (LMS) to include software and computer programs for local departments and states to track training and certifications were added as high priority

Under Operation and Safety and Regional category:

  • Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH), Protection for Fire Investigators (single-use respiratory protection) is added as high priority.
  • Definition of Primary First Due Response Area is updated to be consistent with NFPA 1710 Current Edition. The geographic area surrounding a fire station in which a company from that station is projected to be the first to arrive on the scene of an incident.
  • Application will include data/statistics on fire departments implementation of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1582 physicals. This information is not included in the peer review determination.

Under Vehicle Acquisition:

  • Brush vehicles are now a high priority for urban, suburban and rural communities. The only exception is for urban communities, a brush truck may not exceed Type III in specifications. This does not preclude a department from applying for a Type I urban interface pumper. Type I pumpers should be requested as a pumper and specified in the request as Type I.

For this round of funding, approximately $315 million is available to support 2,500 awards. Maximum award and required match contributions vary based on the departments jurisdiction size. Generally, applicants serving larger population sizes can request a larger maximum award size (up to $3.5 million) but must provide a larger match share.

FY 2019 Assistance to Firefighters Grants Summary

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