Press Release: State Auditor Julie Blaha releases Annual Financial Report on Minnesota Counties


For Immediate Release

March 31, 2020


Donald McFarland | 651-236-0494

Saint Paul, MN – “The release of the 2018 Minnesota County Finances Report amid the COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of the crucial services counties deliver to citizens as the administrative arm of the state,” said Auditor Blaha. “Health and human services are some of the most critical services administered by our counties.”

Earlier today, State Auditor Julie Blaha released the 2018 Minnesota County Finances Report. The Report was compiled from 2018 county reporting forms, financial statements, and audits. The Report summarizes the current and long-term trends for county revenues, expenditures, and debt.

Blaha added, “Due to our technology and well developed telecommuting options, staff at the Office of the State Auditor are continuing to serve Minnesota during the COVID-19 emergency, while still following the guidance of the Minnesota Department of Health.”

The two major sources of county revenues are taxes and intergovernmental revenues. In 2018, taxes as a percent of total revenues increased to 49.4 percent – its highest percentage in decades. Conversely, the percentage of county funding from intergovernmental grants and aid decreased to 36.7 percent in 2018 –its lowest percentage in decades.

Highlights of the report include:

Current-Year Trends

  • Minnesota county revenues totalled $7.4 billion in 2018. This represents an increase of $507.6 million, or 7.3 percent, over 2017.
  • Counties reported total expenditures of $7.6 billion in 2018. This represents an increase of $200.7 million, or 2.7 percent, over 2017 total expenditures. Between 2017 and 2018, current expenditures increased 3.4 percent to $5.8 billion, capital outlays increased 22.5 percent to $1.4 billion, and debt service decreased 37.6 percent to $402.6 million.
  • In 2018, Minnesota counties reported outstanding long-term debt of $3.7 billion. This represents an increase of 4.2 percent over the long-term debt reported in 2017. Of the $3.7 billion in long-term debt, $3.3 billion was outstanding bonded debt, and $365.5 million was other long term debt.
  • Minnesota counties’ unrestricted fund balances of the General Fund and Special Revenue Funds totaled $2.8 billion in 2018. This represents an increase of 7.6 percent over 2017. The average unrestricted fund balance as a percent of current expenditures for counties was 49.3 percent in 2018 compared to 47.3 percent in 2017.

Long-term Trends

  • Between 2009 and 2018, in actual dollars, total county revenues rose 30.7 percent over this ten-year period. When adjusted for inflation, the increase in total revenues was 6.7 percent over this period.
  • In actual dollars, total expenditures increased 30.2 percent from 2009 to 2018. When adjusted for inflation, county expenditures increased 6.3 percent over the ten-year period.



The Office of the State Auditor is the constitutional office that oversees nearly $40 billion in local government finances for Minnesota taxpayers. The Office of the State Auditor helps to ensure financial integrity and accountability in local government financial activities. Julie Blaha is Minnesota’s 19th State Auditor. Follow us on Twitter @MNStateAuditor.