State Auditor Blaha Releases 2020 County Finances Report - April 20, 2022

Contact: Donald McFarland | 651-236-0494

Saint Paul, MN – Earlier today, State Auditor Julie Blaha released the 2020 Minnesota County Finances Report. The Report was compiled from 2020 county reporting forms, financial statements, and audits. The Report summarizes the current and long-term trends for county revenues, expenditures, and debt.

“This report shows that federal emergency aid through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) act helped counties stabilize their finances while shoring up services in response to the public health, infrastructure and economic challenges they faced,” said Auditor Blaha. “The county data reveals the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic had on revenue sources and spending priorities in 2020.”

The 2020 Minnesota County Finances Report shows revenues increased by 12.2 percent and expenditures increased 11.6 percent. Among revenues, federal grants showed both the largest percentage increase year over year (99 percent) and dollar increase ($754.1 million). Taxes, state grants, and federal grants were the most significant sources of county revenues in 2020, accounting for 84.6 percent of total revenues. For expenditures, the category of housing and economic development showed the largest dollar increase (196.5 percent).

The Highlights of the report include:

Current-Year Trends

  • Minnesota county revenues totaled $8.9 billion in 2020. This represents an increase of $969.7 million, or 12.2 percent, over 2019.
  • Counties reported total expenditures of $9.0 billion in 2020. This represents an increase of $933.1 million, or 11.6 percent, over 2019 total expenditures. Between 2019 and 2020, current expenditures increased 12.5 percent to $7.2 billion, capital outlays increased 8.2 percent to $1.4 billion, and debt service increased 8.1 percent to $412.8 million.
  • In 2020, Minnesota counties reported outstanding long-term debt of $4.2 billion. This represents an increase of 4.9 percent over the long-term debt reported in 2019. Of the $4.2 billion in long-term debt, $3.9 billion was outstanding bonded debt, and $324.1 million was other long term debt.
  • Minnesota counties’ unrestricted fund balances of the General Fund and Special Revenue Funds totaled $3.2 billion in 2020. This represents an increase of 9.8 percent over 2019. The average unrestricted fund balance as a percent of current expenditures for counties was 44.6 percent in 2020 compared to 45.7 percent in 2019.

Long-term Trends

  • In actual dollars, total county revenues rose 51.0 percent from 2011 to 2020. When adjusted for inflation, the increase in total revenues was 26.4 percent over this period.
  • In actual dollars, total expenditures increased 50.5 percent from 2011 to 2020. When adjusted for inflation, county expenditures increased 26.0 percent over the ten-year period.

You may view the complete report, which includes an Executive Summary, graphs, and tables, on the OSA website.