Auditor Blaha Releases Special Districts Report - June 23, 2021

Contact: Donald McFarland | 651-236-0494

Saint Paul, MN – Earlier today, State Auditor Julie Blaha released the 2019 Minnesota Special Districts Finances Report. “Special districts are often the result of local governments working together to build efficiencies and effectiveness,” said Auditor Blaha.

Minnesota has over 600 special districts that provide clean water, transportation, public safety, health care, housing, and other services to residents. Special districts are local government units created or authorized by state law to perform specific duties.

“This is one of the first reports that has a sliver of data affected by COVID-19,” continued Blaha. “A vast majority of data represents the months before COVID-19 began impacting Minnesota. We know that local governments faced a careful balancing act in 2020, so it will be interesting to compare these numbers to next year’s numbers.”

Blaha added, “For this report, it’s a good idea to dig into the tables because trends can be greatly affected by a handful of large entities.”

The OSA Government Information Division built this report from 2019 special district reporting forms, financial statements, and audits. Special districts in Minnesota end their fiscal years at different times, which is an important consideration for those using this report for their own research. This report covers the special districts with fiscal years that ended between July 1, 2019, and June 30, 2020 (FY 2019).

The primary sources of revenues for special district governmental funds were state grants, taxes, and charges for services. In addition to governmental funds, many special districts establish enterprise funds. Enterprise funds can account for services that are financed and operated in a manner similar to private businesses.

The Report and its underlying data are available on the website of the Office of the State Auditor. Highlights of the report include:

  • Special districts reported total governmental fund revenues of $1.3 billion in 2019. The primary sources of revenues for special district governmental funds were state grants (36 percent), taxes (19 percent), and charges for services (17 percent).
  • Special districts reported total governmental expenditures of $1.3 billion in 2019. Of this amount, $1.1 billion were current expenditures, $115.2 million were capital expenditures, and $91.8 million were debt service payments.
  • In 2019, special district enterprise operations reported operating revenues of $2.3 billion, operating expenses of $2.9 billion, and operating losses of $578.2 million (operating revenues minus operating expenses). In addition, special district enterprises had non-operating revenues of $916.8 million, non-operating expenses of $235.2 million, and a net profit of $103.4 million.
  • Special districts reported $5.7 billion in governmental and enterprise fund outstanding long term debt (bonds and other long-term debt) in 2019.
  • Of the 148 special districts that held long-term debt in 2019, five special districts accounted for $4.8 billion, or 84 percent, of the total outstanding long-term debt of special districts. The five special districts, in order of outstanding long-term debt, were the Metropolitan Airports Commission, the Metropolitan Council, the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, the Western Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, and the Minnesota Municipal Power Agency.

To view the complete report, which includes an Executive Summary, graphs and tables, click here.