The 60th annual meeting and fellowship dinner of the Houston County Township Officers Association took place on Tuesday, September 28, at the Four Seasons Community Center, Caledonia.
Typically, the association holds two separate events each year, a dinner and the annual meeting. However, since neither event happened in 2020 due to COVID-19 both events were combined into one this year.
Over 80 folks from Houston County’s 17 townships and county department heads, four Houston County Commissioners, State Representative Greg Davis, and Rex Edge, District 1 Director, Minnesota Association of Townships, attended the event.
All enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner prepared by Rosie’s Catering of Brownsville.
Event sponsors include Bruening Rock Products, Excelsior Services LLC, Green Acres Excavation, Kruckow Rock & Ready Mix, Nodine Culvert, Scott Construction, and VanGundy Excavating LLP.
The business meeting was efficient, and the election went quickly as the current board of directors all agreed to serve another term, and there were no nominations from the floor. Officers are president – Richard Markos, vice president – Gene Tessmer, secretary – Richard Nelson, and treasurer, Arlyn Pohlman. Directors representing each quadrant of Houston County are Northwest, John Beckman and Richard Nelson; Northeast, Richard Markos and Jon Welda; Southwest, Jim Solum and Mike Patterson, Southeast, Gene Tessmer and Arlyn Pohlman; and member-at-large, Larry Gaustad.
After the business meeting, Rex Edge, District 1 Director, Minnesota Association of Townships (MAT) spoke.
“We actually had a good year in the state association with the legislatures. We had some wins,” shared Edge.
The association’s first win was NBridge, a company that install the tier 3 pipeline across northern Minnesota sued the state saying that the state overvalued the property. NBridge won. The state is responsible for paying back the taxes and not the townships. If the townships had to pay back the taxes it would have bankrupted the townships. What this means for the townships in SE Minnesota? Edge answered, “If a township goes bankrupt it changes the bonding interest and we would all be paying more money on bonds.”
The second win, “We got a definition for a volunteer driver.” Edge explained that insurance companies wanted to charge commercial rates to drivers that were volunteering their time to drive, for example, vets to the VA hospital.” Now insurance companies can only charge them regular rates.
MAT got $20 million designated to roads and bridges in the townships. The association had hoped it would continue each year, but it is only for one year.
Edge emphasized the association’s three focus areas: Money for roads and bridges; border to border broadband; and orderly annexations.
Edge concluded his presentation by emphasizing the importance of each township applying for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding and pleaded with the townships to apply. The deadline to apply is October 4, and townships have three years to decide how to spend the funds. Information on how to apply can be found on the MAT website, www.mntownships.org. For $30 MAT staff will even apply for you. MAT can also help townships decide how to spend the money or it can be transferred to the county if the townships do not know what to spend it on.
One last thing for townships to think about. A Dodge County commissioner asked a recycling firm what would it cost to recycle a 1 mega-watt solar farm? $300,000. The life expectancy of a wind and solar farm is 20 years. The wind blades cannot be recycled. Countys out west are burying them. After they are no longer useful, Edge emphasized that it will be to the townships and property owners to get rid of it.
Questions regarding MAT, contact Edge at (763) 497-2330 or (800) 228-0296 or firstname.lastname@example.org.