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Hubbard County town finances saw big gains, losses in 2020

In some local townships, receipts were nearly double the expenditures – or vice versa – according to a report from the Minnesota state auditor's office.

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Total revenues (dark blue) and expenditures (light blue) of Hubbard County towns in 2020 are compared. Infogram by Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise, Jan. 5, 2022

An analysis of town finances in 2020 showed that Hubbard County towns reported revenues and expenses ranging from Helga Township’s net gain of almost $175,000 to a net loss of about $114,000 in Crow Wing Lake Township.

Clay Township’s net loss of $89,486, while smaller in dollars, was by far the biggest gain or loss by percentage of total revenue at 145%. Closest to breaking even was Thorpe Township, with a net loss of $279, less than 0.7% of the town’s revenue.

According to a report from the Office of the State Auditor on Minnesota town finances in 2020, 1,652 towns submitted financial data to the state out of 1,781 towns statewide.

The report cites the state demographer’s estimate that 922,013 people, or 16.2% of the state population, lived in towns in 2020, ranging in population from six to 11,049. More than 50% of towns had a population of 300 or less.

Statewide, towns reported revenues of $380.8 million, a 13.8% increase from 2019, and expenditures of $360.3 million, a 1.7% increase. Towns’ debt service expenditures totaled $13.3 million, a rise of 26.7% over 2019, while their outstanding debt totaled $72 million, a 13.1% increase.

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The state report does not provide any interpretation or advice about towns’ over- and under-collection of taxes or their sometimes significant net gains or losses. However, it does provide town residents with information about how their tax dollars were used.

Town revenues, expenses and debt

One town in Hubbard County, Steamboat River (population 140) failed to report its finances to the state auditor’s office in 2020, as well as in 2018 and 2019. However, it is on record that Steamboat River Township had a tax capacity of $502,172 and a $50,002 tax levy payable in 2020.

Other Hubbard County towns reported the following financial data in 2020.

Akeley Twp. (pop. 559) had a $1,012,480 tax capacity and a $230,005 tax levy.

  • Revenues: $224,122 actual taxes; $37,476 intergovernmental grants (federal, state and county/local); $263,920 total.

  • Expenditures: $51,683 general government; $28,700 public safety; $168,463 road and bridge; $254,927 total – a net gain of $8,993, or 3.4% of total revenue.

Arago (pop. 606): $2,045,829 tax cap.; $345,013 levy.

  • Revenues: $366,005 taxes; $18,952 grants; $385,065 total.

  • Expenditures: $68,315 government; $18,901 public safety; $182,441 road and bridge; $270,657 total – a net gain of $114,408, or 29.7% of revenue.

  • Outstanding debt: $39,461 in general obligation bonds.

Badoura (pop. 152): $459,630 tax cap.; $87,997 levy.

  • Revenues: $87,186 taxes; $10,922 grants; $103,636 total.

  • Expenditures: $25,929 government; $12,114 public safety; $40,979 road and bridge; $81,522 total – a net gain of $22,114, or 21.3% of revenue.

Clay (pop. 76): $448,113 tax cap.; $49,001 levy.

  • Revenues: $54,183 taxes; $5,857 grants; $61,663 total.

  • Expenditures: $21,321 government; $3,218 public safety; $27,295 road and bridge; $96,515 capital outlay; $151,149 total – a net loss of $89,486, or 145% of revenue.

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Townships total 2020 revenue (dark blue) is compared to their total expenditures (light blue). Infogram by Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise, Jan. 5, 2022


Clover (pop. 125): $633,338 tax cap.; $39,301 levy.

  • Revenues: $72,876 taxes; $26,628 grants; $104,090 total.

  • Expenditures: $27,402 government; $5,184 public safety; $13,909 road and bridge; $52,181 total – a net gain of $51,909, or 49.9% of revenue.

Crow Wing Lake (pop. 358): $1,360,700 tax cap.; $235,727 levy.

  • Revenues: $215,593 taxes; $50,499 grants; $288,669 total.

  • Expenditures: $44,712 government; $21,840 public safety; $334,071 road and bridge; $402,378 total – a net loss of $113,709, or 39.4% of revenue.

Farden (pop. 1,145): $1,941,861 tax cap.; $472,401 levy.

  • Revenues: $350,568 taxes; $64,394 grants; $416,139 total.

  • Expenditures: $78,845 government; $27,563 public safety; $206,993 road and bridge; $34,848 capital outlay; $387,182 total – a net gain of $28,957, or 7% of revenue.

Fern (pop. 285): $222,381 tax cap.; $46,452 levy.

  • Revenues: $43,944 taxes; $17,166 grants; $62,640 total.

  • Expenditures: $22,584 government; $4,948 public safety; $13,530 road and bridge; $2,637 capital outlay; $45,043 total – a net gain of $17,597, or 28.1% of revenue.

Guthrie (pop. 603): $548,307 tax cap.; $97,302 levy.

  • Revenues: $97,892 taxes; $33,228 grants; $6,466 transfers in; $142,902 total.

  • Expenditures: $55,575 government; $9,129 public safety; $41,092 road and bridge; $107,863 total – a net gain of $35,039, or 24.5% of revenue.

Hart Lake (pop. 543): $586,970 tax cap.; $75,008 levy.

  • Revenues: $73,243 taxes; $18,698 grants; $91,972 total.

  • Expenditures: $45,140 government; $10,937 public safety; $52,812 road and bridge; $108,889 total – a net loss of $16,917, or 18.4% of revenue.

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Townships total 2020 revenue (dark blue) is compared to their total expenditures (light blue). Infogram by Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise, Jan. 5, 2022


Helga (pop. 1,648): $1,751,002 tax cap.; $316,991 levy.

  • Revenues: $322,224 taxes; $136,257 grants; $472,093 total.

  • Expenditures: $105,158 government; $47,277 public safety; $78,168 road and bridge; $66,118 debt service; $297,121 total – a net gain of $174,972, or 37.1% of revenue..

  • Outstanding debt: $110,381 in long-term, non-bonded debt.

Hendrickson (pop. 307): $300,270 tax cap.; $37,000 levy.

  • Revenues: $41,955 taxes; $20,664 grants; $65,070 total.

  • Expenditures: $32,526 government; $4,943 public safety; $44,827 road and bridge; $87,096 total – a net loss of $22,026, or 33.8% of revenue..

Henrietta (pop. 1,514): $2,627,228 tax cap.; $400,022 levy.

  • Revenues: $394,943 taxes; $80,066 grants; $2,000 transfers in; $491,962 total.

  • Expenditures: $93,309 government; $36,243 public safety; $296,188 road and bridge; $450,191 total – a net gain of $41,771, or 8.5% of revenue.

Hubbard Twp. (pop. 770): $2,492,942 tax cap.; $224,567 levy.

  • Revenues: $223,494 taxes; $29,849 grants; $266,859 total.

  • Expenditures: $64,298 government; $21,605 public safety; $153,689 road and bridge; $239,917 total – a net gain of $26,942, or 10.1% of revenue.

Lake Alice (pop. 114): $562,679 tax cap.; $37,464 levy.

  • Revenues: $40,865 taxes; $8,284 grants; $50,800 total.

  • Expenditures: $16,906 government; $2,843 public safety; $29,853 road and bridge; $52,915 total – a net loss of $2,115, or 4.2% of revenue.

Lake Emma (pop. 965): $3,985,146 tax cap.; $344,994 levy.

  • Revenues: $344,318 taxes; $58,433 grants; $409,117 total.

  • Expenditures: $84,477 government; $27,826 public safety; $235,158 road and bridge; $365,451 total – a net gain of $43,666, or 10.7% of revenue.

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Townships total 2020 revenue (dark blue) is compared to their total expenditures (light blue). Infogram by Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise, Jan. 5, 2022


Lake George (pop. 389): $556,613 tax cap.; $88,230 levy.

  • Revenues: $93,737 taxes; $28,575 grants; $10,000 transfers in; $134,818 total.

  • Expenditures: $32,545 government; $23,071 public safety; $35,127 road and bridge; $92,570 total – a net gain of $42,248, or 31.3% of revenue.

Lake Hattie (pop. 180): $309,200 tax cap.; $70,003 levy.

  • Revenues: $77,435 taxes; $16,765 grants; $94,336 total.

  • Expenditures: $19,392 government; $4,829 public safety; $69,716 road and bridge; $6,124 capital outlay; $100,511 total – a net loss of $6,175, or 6.5% of revenue.

Lakeport (pop. 840): $1,638,035 tax cap.; $192,845 levy.

  • Revenues: $197,505 taxes; $35,830 grants; $12,000 transfers in; $275,750 total.

  • Expenditures: $58,059 government; $71,800 public safety; $105,304 road and bridge; $237,782 total – a net gain of $37,968, or 13.8% of revenue.

Mantrap (pop. 522): $1,631,455 tax cap.; $197,070 levy.

  • Revenues: $194,462 taxes; $37,052 grants; $236,933 total.

  • Expenditures: $74,513 government; $31,260 public safety; $127,364 road and bridge; $233,188 total – a net gain of $3,745, or 1.6% of revenue.

Nevis Twp. (pop. 1,143): $2,776,161 tax cap.; $487,011 levy.

  • Revenues: $484,567 taxes; $68,991 grants; $26,501 transfers in; $587,199 total.

  • Expenditures: $106,942 government; $57,410 public safety; $351,937 road and bridge; $528,264 total – a net gain of $58,935, or 10% of revenue.

  • Outstanding debt: $36,000 in long-term, non-bonded debt.

Rockwood (pop. 390): $611,514 tax cap.; $86,002 levy.

  • Revenues: $89,883 taxes; $26,823 grants; $3,306 transfers in; $124,586 total.

  • Expenditures: $41,805 government; $14,876 public safety; $51,074 road and bridge; $110,828 total – a net gain of $13,758, or 11% of revenue.

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Not included in the state auditor's report on 2020 town finances is Straight River Twp., which did not submit financial data on time for the third year in a row. Infogram by Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise, Jan. 5, 2022


Schoolcraft (pop. 136): $155,548 tax cap.; $15,001 levy.

  • Revenues: $23,941 taxes; $5,132 grants; $29,140 total.

  • Expenditures: $10,184 government; $3,189 public safety; $4,840 road and bridge; $3,010 capital outlay; $21,223 total – a net gain of $7,917, or 27.2% of revenue..

Straight River (pop. 788): $1,241,544 tax cap.; $151,009 levy.

  • Revenues: $148,604 taxes; $45,450 grants; $203,093 total.

  • Expenditures: $66,842 government; $19,094 public safety; $99,188 road and bridge; $190,249 total – a net gain of $12,844, or 6.3% of revenue.

Thorpe (pop. 39): $313,823 tax cap.; $28,999 levy.

  • Revenues: $29,200 taxes; $13,035 grants; $42,722 total.

  • Expenditures: $18,073 government; $5,210 public safety; $16,016 road and bridge; $43,001 total – a net loss of $279, or 0.7% of revenue.

Todd (pop. 1,464): $1,896,777 tax cap.; $283,050 levy.

  • Revenues: $279,545 taxes; $69,283 grants; $395,391 total.

  • Expenditures: $153,261 government; $27,987 public safety; $143,340 road and bridge; $6,885 capital outlay; $332,795 total – a net gain of $62,596, or 15.8% of revenue.

White Oak (pop. 486): $934,686 tax cap.; $337,044 levy.

  • Revenues: $337,958 taxes; $43,828 grants; $391,151 total.

  • Expenditures: $49,740 government; $21,715 public safety; $298,789 road and bridge; $374,327 total – a net gain of $16,824, or 4.3% of revenue.

Not shown are revenues from license and permit fees, charges for services, interest earnings, expenditures for culture and recreation and “other” revenues and expenses. For these details and more, see the full state auditor’s report:

Altogether, Hubbard County towns collected $4,910,248 in taxes, $1,010,137 in grants and $6,124,006 in total revenues.

Meanwhile, they spent a total of $5,687,383, including $1.47 million on general government, $560,000 on public safety, $3.2 million on roads and bridges, $150,019 on capital outlay and $66,133 on debt service.

Put together, Hubbard County towns posted a net gain of $436,623 in 2020.

The state auditor’s report does not provide figures for net gains or losses; these were calculated by Enterprise staff, who take responsibility for any errors above.

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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