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Ruth Simpson March 13, 2018

MPR: Mark your calendar: Tuesday is Minnesota Township Day

All of Minnesota’s nearly 1,800 townships will hold their annual meetings Tuesday in a grassroots display of democracy known as Township Day.

It’s a time for residents to voice their concerns about local issues.

“Usually the elected officers provide a budget of what they’d like to see,” said Steve Fenske, an attorney with the Minnesota Association of Townships. “And then the voters sit and talk about whether they want to provide what’s in the proposed budget or whether they want to cut back.”

The meetings often tackle topics like road maintenance, tax levies and planning and zoning. The number of townships assuming that responsibility has grown over the last decade.

“It kind of changes over time, but [that happens] usually when they get frustrated and they want to see something different,” said Fenske. “Ten to 15 years ago, there was a big push [for townships to take over planning and zoning] because there were feedlot issues. Within the last couple of years there’s been issues about solar gardens and where are they placed.”

Townships also lobby at the state Legislature. State money for roads and broadband expansion are key issues this year.

Many of the state’s townships will also hold their elections Tuesday.

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