The Minnesota Association of Townships has announced that the date for annual town meetings has been set for March 13.
Unlike voting, the annual town meeting is a true form of direct democracy – allowing residents of the township to meet, voice their opinions and vote on their tax levy. It is also a way to gauge the sentiments of township residents to find out what they want to see.
As with most American political ideas, town meetings have their roots in colonial America. New England town meetings gave citizens a way to exercise local authority. These meetings were especially important in the development of democracy because it emphasized problem-solving through group efforts.
Thomas Jefferson called it the “wisest invention ever devised by the wit of man for the perfect exercise of self-government.”
This tradition was passed down to townships here in Minnesota.
Township residents gather on the second Tuesday in March at the town hall, or another designated place, to discuss their communities. Typically, residents hear reports from the board of audit on the town’s finances and a roads report. Residents are required to vote on the tax levy.
A range of topics - from a new town hall, vacating a road, or giving the board authority to pass an ordinance - can be on the agenda.
Many townships hold elections the same day, outside the meeting, for a supervisor, clerk, or treasurer.
Remember to vote.
Townships are often referred to as “grassroots government.” This reference stems from the community-based nature of how town government is structured. Most townships have small populations, but a big sense of community. Being small, township officials must be creative in delivering quality services with the least possible burden to taxpayers.
Township officers must be responsive to the needs of their residents, since most are friends and neighbors.
The public is encouraged to be part of the “grassroots” movement and attend their town meeting March 13.
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