Auditor Blaha Releases Special Districts Report - June 8, 2022

Contact: Donald McFarland | 651-236-0494

Saint Paul, MN – Earlier today, State Auditor Julie Blaha released the 2020 Minnesota Special Districts Finances Report.

“Special districts are the result of local governments working together to provide services efficiently,” said Auditor Blaha. “This report details how the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic affected the finances of these districts.”

“The numbers show that special districts held spending down, and an increase in federal grants helped offset lower revenues,” added Blaha. “The largest revenue impacts were among special districts that rely on user fees and charges for services.”

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

The Report was compiled from 2020 special district reporting forms, financial statements, and audits. Special districts in Minnesota end their fiscal years at different times. This report covers the special districts with fiscal years that ended between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021 (FY 2020).

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

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

  • Special districts reported total governmental fund revenues of $1.3 billion in 2020. The primary sources of revenues for special district governmental funds were state grants (34 percent), taxes (20 percent), federal grants (16 percent), and charges for services (14 percent).
  • Special districts reported total governmental expenditures of $1.3 billion in 2020. Of this amount, $1.0 billion were current expenditures, $114.1 million were capital outlays, and $101.4 million were debt service payments.
  • In 2020, special district enterprise operations reported operating revenues of $2.1 billion, operating expenses of $3.0 billion, and operating losses of $874.6 million (operating revenues minus operating expenses). In addition, special district enterprises had nonoperating revenues of $1.1 billion, nonoperating expenses of $212.7 million, and a net profit of $1.2 million.
  • Special districts reported $5.5 billion in governmental and enterprise fund outstanding long term debt (bonds and other long-term debt) in 2020.
  • Of the 143 special districts that held long-term debt in 2020, five special districts accounted for $4.6 billion, or 83 percent, of the total outstanding long-term debt of special districts.

You may view the complete report on the OSA website.