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Roadwork drives up township expenditures, report says

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BEMIDJI -- Expenditures increased and revenues decreased in 2018 for townships across Minnesota, according to a report from State Auditor Julie Blaha.

Last year, Minnesota townships reported revenues at $317.3 million, a 2.4 percent decrease from 2017. Expenditures, meanwhile, came to $312.2 million in 2018, a 1.9 percent increase from 2017.

In the four townships directly surrounding the city of Bemidji, two had expenditures exceeding revenues, while the others had greater revenues. The two with more expenditures were Bemidji Township and Grant Valley Township.

Bemidji Township had a total revenue of $693,142 and $953,729 in expenditures. Of the revenue total from 2018, the report shows Bemidji Township collected a total of $592,886 in taxes and received $42,449 in state grants. Like most townships, the largest expenditure was on road and bridge projects, coming to $664,899.

Grant Valley Township had $465,721 in revenue and $803,543 in expenses for 2018. The report found total taxes collected at $400,202, while state grants contributed $37,134. The township invested $681,788 into roadwork.

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In Eckles Township, the revenue came to $458,438, ahead of the $440,345 in expenditures. According to the report, $389,566 came from taxes and $32,112 was from state grants. The roadwork in 2018 came to $294,426.

For Northern Township, the total revenue came to $1.04 million, while expenditures came to $861,505. Taxes collected in 2018 came to $963,783, with state grants adding $62,691. Road projects in the township came to $276,562.

Across the state, total township revenue between 2009 and 2018 increased 20.5 percent. However, the report found when factoring in inflation, the total revenues actually decreased 1.6 percent.

In expenditures, dollar amounts grew between 2009 and 2018 by 20.3 percent. But when inflation was calculated, the total expenditures decreased 1.8 percent in Minnesota townships.

Since 2009, the share of total revenues derived from taxes increased from 70.4 percent in 2009 to $73.8 percent in 2018. Meanwhile, the share of revenue from intergovernmental sources, such as the state, have decreased from 19.1 percent to 18.2 percent over the same period.

Matthew Liedke is a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He is originally from International Falls and now resides in Bemidji. He's a 2009 graduate of Rainy River Community College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead. At the Pioneer, he covers government, politics, health and economic development. He can be reached at (218) 333-9791 or by email at mliedke@bemidjipioneer.com.
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