Townships in Becker County are acting to scoop up American Rescue funds

There is $2.5 million on the table for Becker County townships. But they have to apply for it online.

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Township, county and city officials gathered at the Becker County Courthouse Tuesday, June 22, 2021 to learn about options on American Rescue Plan funding. (Nathan Bowe/Tribune)

Townships in Becker County are moving forward to apply for American Rescue Plan funds, and the county is doing what it can to help them through that process, said County Economic Development Coordinator Guy Fischer.

Becker County is getting about $6.68 million in federal stimulus funds, and townships and cities are eligible for federal money of their own, depending on population.

The 37 townships in Becker County are eligible for a total of $2.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan funding. Larger townships such as Lakeview and Burlington are eligible for around $200,000 each, and a smaller township, like Callaway Township, is eligible for $35,000.

But they have to apply for the money individually online, and that can be difficult for some smaller townships with less tech-savvy officials.

So Fischer has been contacting and working with township officials to help them through the application process if needed.


“We did apply for it,” said Holmesville Township Clerk Tracy Larson. Roughly speaking, townships are eligible for about $100 per resident. Holmesville Township has 525 residents, so its grant application was for a little over $50,000, she said.

“I have computer skills, even with that, though -- there were good instructions -- but there were a lot of steps to it. People not computer-savvy at all would have struggled through it,” she said. Each township’s Dun & Bradstreet unique nine-digit ID number is part of the process, for example.

Larson found the Minnesota Association of Townships website very helpful, with step-by-step instructions that included links and demonstrative screen shots.

She said the Holmesville Town Board has not yet decided how the American Rescue Plan dollars will be spent. But the township has over two years to use the money, and it wouldn’t hurt to wait a bit while the federal government likely amends and clarifies how it can be spent, she said.

Height of Land Township has applied and has already received half its money, said Township Treasurer Nancy Stenger.

The toughest part of the process involved the township’s Dun & Bradstreet number and updating it with the state and with, a federal government website, she said. After that, “the registration process seemed easy,” she said. “There's a lot of help out there.” She also used the Minnesota Association of Townships website, and both Larson and Stenger said Fischer had checked in with them to offer help if needed.

As of last week, about 20 townships had connected with the county. “I talked about half of them through the process on the phone,” Fischer said. Another eight townships came to a county workshop, where in-person assistance was available, Fischer said.

“I’m after the ones who may be a little on-the-fence about going after the funds,” Fischer said. “Then we get together so everyone knows what everyone else is doing,” he added. "The biggest thing is getting the money into their accounts -- then you can start having discussions.”


There have been some interesting ideas floated by township officials, Fischer said. “We need to get them out there to others.”

Some townships may choose to hand the money off to other government entities, if they decide not to use it for their own purposes, he said, adding that unused township money will go to the state unless otherwise directed.

Townships should take advantage of this funding opportunity, Steve Fenske, general counsel for the Minnesota Association of Townships, told township and city officials earlier this summer at the Becker County Courthouse.

“It’s important that you move forward with this,” Fenske said. “Everybody should be doing this -- no township should be leaving money on the table from this.”

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