Friday, December 18, 2015

Research Q of the Week: The Handbook for Minnesota Cities (12/18/15)

Question: Where can I find the Handbook? And what's in it?

Answer: The Handbook for Minnesota Cities is a comprehensive resource on municipal issues that is updated annually after the state Legislature has adjourned. The Handbook, produced by the League, has 26 chapters and starts with the basics of local government construction in Minnesota and includes chapters on issues like development, budgeting, and records management.

Some of the more popular chapters include:

Chapter 7: Meetings, Motions, Resolutions, and Ordinances covers the basics of meetings like giving notice for a special meeting, when a council cannot meet, and the tasks a council should do at its annual meeting. The Open Meeting Law requirements for councils and their boards/commissions/committees is discussed in detail include when and how a council should go about having a closed meeting. The Handbook also includes an explanation of what actions can be made by motion, which should be documented in a resolution or are required to be an ordinance.

Chapter 6: Elected Officials Council Structure and Role
includes the basics of who is qualified to hold office in Minnesota, terms of office, and what to do when there is a vacancy on the council. Gift law, conflict of interest, and incompatible offices are also covered to help protect councilmembers. The role of the mayor, individual councilmembers, and the council’s authority in general is discussed. When the council can delegate authority to staff or a council committee is also explained.

Interested in your city's economic development? What types of businesses and professions a city can and cannot license is reviewed in Chapter 11. How a city can help spur development is considered in Chapter 15. And property taxes, including setting the levy, is examined in Chapter 22.

If this sounds like the best idea since figgy pudding, check it out today. The Handbook is available for free online. Accessing the Handbook online ensures you are viewing the most up-to-date information. A printed copy of the Handbook can also be purchased. Here's the order form.

Written by Amber Eisenschenk, staff attorney with the League of Minnesota Cities. Contact: or (651) 281-1227.

This blog post conveys general information. It’s not legal advice. Please check with your city attorney before acting on this information.

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