Duties of Town Board
Minn. Stat. § 367.11.
§ 4-3. Duties of the Town Clerk
Some of the primary duties of the town clerk are:
(1) to act as clerk of the town board and keep in the clerk’s office a true record of all of its proceedings; (2) unless otherwise provided by law, to have custody of the records, books, and papers of the town and file and safely keep all papers required by law to be filed in the clerk’s office; (3) to record minutes of the proceedings of every town meeting in the book of town records and enter in them at length every order or direction and all rules and regulations made by the town meeting; (4) to file and preserve all accounts audited by the town board or allowed at a town meeting and enter a statement of them in the book of records; (5) to record every request for a special vote or special town meeting and properly post the requisite notices of them; (6) to post, as required by law, fair copies of all bylaws made by the town, and make a signed entry in the town records, of the time when and the places where they were posted and record in full all ordinances passed by the town board in an ordinance book; (7) to furnish to the annual meeting of the town board of audit every statement from the county treasurer of money paid to the town treasurer, and all other information about fiscal affairs of the town in the clerk’s possession, and all accounts, claims, and demands against the town filed with the clerk; and (8)added by Lutsen Town Supervisors: to check mail, email, phone messages and to process all claims using CTAS [electronic financial management system] including payroll which includes providing checks, tax forms, and distribution of these documents.(9) to perform any other duties required by law. Minn. Stat. § 367.11.
This list is just the beginning of the clerk’s responsibilities. For instance, the clerk’s role in conducting elections in the town is a significant undertaking with many duties and procedural requirements. New clerks are advised to seek out training on their duties to assist them.
Too many towns believe that that clerks may vote to break a tie between the supervisors. That is wrong! Clerks do not have a vote on the board except for one instance. The only time clerks are allowed to vote is as a member of an appointment committee formed to fill a vacancy in the office of supervisor. Minn. Stat. § 367.03, subd. 6. The clerk serves on the committee with the remaining supervisors and is authorized to make motions and should vote on who should be appointed to fill the supervisor vacancy.
§ 4-2. Duties of the Town Treasurer
A town treasurer does not have a vote on the board, but fulfills many other important duties. The primary duties of the town treasurer are:to receive and take charge of all money belonging to the town, or which is required to be paid into its treasury, and to pay it out only upon the lawful order of the town or its officers;(2) to preserve all books, papers, and property pertaining to or filed in the treasurer’s office;(3) to keep a true account of all money received as treasurer and the manner in which it is disbursed, in a book provided for that purpose, and provide the account, with the treasurer’s vouchers, to the town board of audit, at its annual meeting, for adjustment; (4) to deliver, on demand, all books and property belonging to the treasurer’s office, and all money in the treasurer’s hands as treasurer, to a qualified successor; (5) to keep in a suitable book a register of all town orders presented for payment that cannot be paid for want of funds, with the date presented, and to endorse upon the back of each the words “not paid for want of funds,” with the date of the endorsement, signed by the treasurer; (6) to draw from the county treasurer, from time to time, money received by the county treasurer for the town, an receipt for it; (7) to make and file with the town clerk, within five days preceding the annual town meeting, a statement, in writing, of the money received from the county treasurer and all other sources, and all money paid out as town treasurer. The statement shall show the items of money received and from whom, on what account and when each was received. The statement shall also show the items of payment and to whom, for what purpose, when and the amount of each that was made, and the unexpended balance on hand; and (8) to perform other duties required by law. Minn. Stat. § 367.16.Other duties of the town treasurer include paying judgments ordered against the town (Minn. Stat. § 365.41) and selecting a depository for town funds if the board fails to select one within 30 days of the annual town meeting (Minn. Stat. § 366.07)
§ 4-5. Duties of Town Supervisors
When it came to setting out the duties of town supervisors the legislature wisely did not attempt to identify and list them all. Instead, it simply said the “supervisors shall have charge of all town affairs not committed to other officers by law.” Minn. Stat. § 366.01, subd. 1.
Rather than being a task-oriented position, the office of town supervisor involves setting policy by making choices from a wide range of options. The challenges for supervisors include identifying what the available options are based on the town’s legal authority, following the correct process, taking the required steps to implement the selected option, and implementing the decision. Along the way, there are various legal policy questions, financial limitations, and political pressures that can make this a very difficult process.
At a more mundane level, supervisors are also responsible for choosing a supervisor to serve as chair. The statutes do not set out any particular selection process for the chair’s position and a town has a good deal of flexibility to use the process that makes sense to its particular board. The person appointed as the town board chair does perform certain duties in addition to the usual responsibilities of a supervisor. Those include serving as the presiding officer for town board meetings and signing checks and other documents on behalf of the board.
It is important to note the chair retains all the powers of a supervisor to make, second, and vote on motions. Furthermore, a board may not adopt rules to limit the powers the law grants to this or any other elected position (i.e., it cannot adopt a rule prohibiting the chair from making a motion). However, it is equally important to note that while the statutes assign the chair certain tasks to perform on behalf of the board, the chair is not automatically granted some superior or independent authority over the other supervisors.
The chair does sign documents approved by the board, but that is more a matter of someone needing to perform that function than an indication the chair can somehow override a vote of the board by refusing to sign. As a practical matter, the chair does take on a number of tasks that need to be performed, but the assignment of additional tasks must not be mistaken for the power to actually control a matter. For instance, the chair working with the clerk to pull together an agenda for a meeting does not give the chair the authority to refuse to place items on the agenda the other supervisors would like to discuss. The business to be conducted by the board is controlled by action of the board, not independently by one person. Except for the statutorily designated tasks, and to the extent the board expressly assigns additional duties or powers, the chair is a supervisor with only the powers of a supervisor.
Lutsen Township Supervisors are in the process of drafting more complete job descriptions