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Local government mandate relief (new law)

Published (5/29/2009)
By Nick Busse
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Local governments will receive less money from the state this year; however, they will also have fewer state mandates to fund.

Sponsored by Rep. Mike Nelson (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and Sen. Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope), a new law is the result of legislative hearings held early in session to determine what state mandates could be removed to help cities and counties cope with budget shortfalls.

A number of statutory requirements are eliminated in the law, including minimum salary mandates for local officials. These include:

• counties with populations under 75,000 no longer have to abide by outdated minimum salary requirements for auditors, treasurers, recorders and sheriffs;

• county boards will have the ability to reduce commissioners’ salaries at any time; and

• cities with populations under 100,000 will be able to temporarily reduce salaries of members of their governing bodies at any time.

The law includes provisions to simplify local governments’ compliance with agency rulemaking authority. State agencies proposing rule changes must determine whether local ordinances will have to be adopted or amended to comply with the proposed rule. If so, then the rule cannot become effective until the next July 1 or Jan. 1 after its adoption.

A change effective July 31, 2009, allows deputy registrars to collect a surcharge on vehicle-related filing fees paid for with credit or debit cards. The surcharge must not exceed the cost of processing the credit or debit transaction.

Other provisions in the law include:

• specifying that a county or town that has accepted responsibility for an abandoned cemetery may prohibit further burials and cease acceptance of responsibility for new burials;

• doubling the annual threshold for municipalities to report to the Department of Labor and Industry on fees collected from developers, builders and subcontractors to $10,000;

• increasing from $300 to $2,000 the threshold for which itemized accounts, claims or demands allowed by a county board must be published in the local newspaper;

• allowing townships to recover the full cost of employing “fence viewers” to help settle private land disputes; and

• striking a cap on booking fees charged to jailed individuals and allowing counties to recover the actual costs of booking.


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