“Trees in township Right of Way”
I have addressed the R-O-W/trees issue in the attached document.
On the mowing issue, perhaps going through the procedure to charge
it against their taxes would help them learn.
I would guess it would be very difficult to win special snow
removal cost in court.
Also note a zoning ordinance can only prevent a problem, it can
not remedy something that already exists, that is why it is
important to enact zoning and enforce it.
Unauthorized Culvert Installation
in our township recently installed a culvert in one of our
township roads without any notice to the township Supervisors. We
had met early this spring with the farmer and couldn’t find an
existing culvert and advised the farmer that we would not be
installing one. Apparently he took it upon himself to do so.
My question: What, as a township, are we allowed to do to prevent
this from reoccurring? Also, does any legal action need to be
taken against this individual for installing the culvert without
Thank you for your information.
Thank you for the question.
You can advise this individual that any time after 31 days the
township will have the culvert removed from the road.
The road will be repaired.
He will be billed for the expense of the culvert removal and the
repair of the road.
The culvert will be relocated and used where-ever the Township
Board decides it would be proper.
When the individual installed his culvert to the public road it
became part of that public road and no longer his culvert.
There is also the possibility of charges for willful damage to a
road for whomever did the installation without permission.
If this individual suddenly has the culvert removed after
receiving the notice, the road must be repaired to the
satisfaction of the board.
The laws pertaining to roads are located in Chapter 24 of the ND
Century Code, these are perhaps the most important laws we as
Township Officers have. This is where we have the most interaction
with the public and property owners. These laws must be followed
to ensure the public has safe usable roads.
In the NDTOA Township Officers Handbook (2016 Edition), the part
of Chapter 24 that pertains to Township Roads starts on page 74
and continues to 96, look it over, it is not that much to read.
See NDCC 24-06-01 Board of township supervisors has supervision
over township roads.
and NDCC 24-12-01 Injuries to highways.
Where can I find minute book for our
township? The one we have now is full.
It is called a Faultless SO-1203 4-ring binder with 7 tabbed
Thanks for any information.
I have the same binder with about 16 divisions. I believe they are
not available anymore.
I kept a master copy of the pages I use and copy more as needed,
my scanner will copy and print legal size documents. I found
pre-punched legal size paper at an office supply store, not sure
which one, to make new copies. I then pull out some of the pages
from older years and put them in a vinyl/clasped folder for
Qualifications of electors, snowbirds
We have several
township members who go south during the winter months, so they
are gone for 3-4 months. Being as their permanent residence,
section 54-01-26, is in our township are they eligible to vote
at a meeting if they do not return to their permanent residence
until a couple days before the meeting. Do they have to be
back living at the permanent residence a full 30 days before any
meeting to be able to vote?
Thank you for helping clear up any
If someone is only temporarily away,
they don’t necessarily lose their residency and have to gain it
back again by living in the precinct for 30 days when they return.
If they voted in an election in another precinct while they were
away, they then gave up their original residency and would then
have to live in the original precinct for 30 days again to be able
to vote. This is where item 7 in NDCC 54-01-26 may come into
Being temporarily away does not
affect residency. Being away from home for vacationing, school,
hospitalization, work or military service are temporary, provided
the individual does not vote as a resident in some other locale.
Thanks for your interest in township
And, thanks for furthering the discussion on the township forum
1099 IRS requirement
I have a
township that has hired someone to do their assessing for them.
They paid him $525.00 for the 2016 year. They are asking if
the township needs to issue him a 1099 since it is under the
$600.00 threshold or do they still because they are a government
entity and are required by IRS Regulations?
Go to irs.gov and search for inst
1099. We are of the opinion that government entities have
the same minimum requirements as the private sector.
Therefore, no 1099 needed for amounts less than $600 in total
payments per year per person or unincorporated entity for contract
Thanks for your interest in township
And, thanks for furthering the discussion on the township forum
Closing of township section line
A landowner’s farm and grain
bin site is adjacent to and on both sides of an unimproved section
line. If he expands his building site it would be in the legal
section line. He would like to vacate a portion of that unimproved
section line - it is pasture and very rough and steep. He owns the
land on both sides and to close it wouldn’t affect anyone
accessing land beyond it.
Can the Township Supervisors vacate that
small portion of section line – by going through the legal
procedures or must it also get approval from the County
See NDCC 24-07-03 on page 84 of the 2016
version of Township Officers Handbook. You will see that the
adjoining property owner actually petitions directly to the County
Commission for closing a section line or portion thereof.
If the intent is to merely vacate a highway or portion thereof,
that power is granted to the board of township supervisors of
organized townships in NDCC 24-07-04 and 24-07-05. There
appears to be no definition of "vacate" or any indication that
this would be a permanent move. This action could leave the door
open for a future township board to re-open the vacated highway
and possibly allow them to require removal of any
obstructions/structures within the right of way (33’ each side of
the section line).
Thanks for your interest in township
And, thanks for furthering the discussion on the township fo
Annual meeting notice
it would be a good idea to have an example or two of what an
annual meeting notice for the newspaper should look like for
A lot of townships are confused about the change in the law and
the wording and ballots needed for budget things with the
information in the NDTOA handbook page 199 – 202. Regarding
publication of notice that is talked about and the ballot for
voting on such things. Reference 57-15-20 second
paragraph. Thank you for your response.
Please find at the end of this paragraph, a link to an Annual
Meeting Notice most townships in Pembina County have been using
for at least as long as I’ve been clerk, 38 years. The
format isn’t as important as making sure all info required by NDCC
Click here for a PDF of meeting notice.
As to 57-15-20:
Paragraph one refers to initial general fund mill levy of "up to"
18 mills that qualified voters at the annual meeting can levy with
no special notice requirements. Paragraph two refers to an
additional levy of "up to" 18 mills, over and above the initial 18
mills for a total of "up to" 36 mills. There is a special
notice requirement for the additional levy, which can be included
with or on the annual meeting notice. Paragraph two of the
mill levy increase on page 258 of the 2016 version of Township
Officers Handbook has wording that can be used.
Thanks your suggestion.
Township won't remove snow
I received a call from an
individual in **** township in **** county saying that his
township supervisors were no longer going to remove snow in this
township this winter. The caller was quite sure that funds
were not depleted. He was wondering if this was in contradiction
to any century codes in our manual or what the members of the
township could do if anything
We know of no directive in Century Code
requiring a particular level of maintenance. We are of the
opinion that the township board has the authority to do as little
or as much maintenance on township roads as they so choose or can
afford. See NDCC 24-06-01, 24-06-19, and 57-15-19. As to
the question of what the township residents can do: They can
attend meetings of the board of supervisors or the annual meeting
of the township to plead their case or get new board members
elected at the annual meeting of the township.
of Interest - township work by entities associated with township
Is it legal for Township Board
Presidents, and other entities involved in townships to give their
companies the township work?
Thanks for the conflict of interest question.
NDCC 58-05-12 on page 225 of the 2016 version of the Township
We got this section reworded a couple
legislative sessions ago to make it clearer on how a township
officer can have an interest in an entity contracting with the
"Our township does not have a
certified assessor yet. Therefore, in the
meantime, we have made an arrangement, to have a certified
assessor from our
county assessor's office, to perform the duties of assessor. We
to have someone within the township to complete the required
perform the assessor duties, but really no one has really
interest. Would it be permissible, to have someone already on our
board (supervisor, clerk/treasurer (we have a combined
position), etc.) complete the training and be elected/appointed to
assessor position, even though they already hold another township
(supervisor, clerk/treasurer. etc.)?"
Since the township board acts as the
equalization board, would any member of the township board, be
prohibited from holding the assessor position at the same time?
the assessor question.
There is no
prohibition against another office holder completing the training
and becoming the assessor. It is not the best situation, as
it is better to have more people involved in local government.
But, what are you going to do if there is nobody else?
the Board of Equalization are not for the benefit of the assessor,
nor for their gain. There is no conflict of interest if a
board member is also the assessor. Nearly all board members
are property owners in the township. They are not
disqualified from voting from those positions either, even if they
own the parcel in question.
is a conflict, is, if the assessor is also a supervisor, then,
that supervisor cannot vote on the assessor compensation.
townships have enlisted an assessor from a neighboring township
that has qualified. You might want to check around in your
neighboring townships to see if they have any qualified assessors
that would want to take on an additional township. Also, if
someone from your township gets the training, they might want to
hire out to another township. It makes good sense to recover
the cost of the training by working for more townships.
Trees growing in township
We have a situation where several
large trees have been allowed to grow for many years
in the area of the outside edge of the road right of way. Let's
assume for discussion purposes
that some are in the farmer's field and some in the right-of-way.
The landowner has had them
removed and is now asking for restitution for part of the tree
work that was contained in the
area of the right of way. The landowner has stated that they were
asked to remove them by the
township, but that would have to have been prior to 1990 before I
was on the board. To my
knowledge, there was never a formal written request by the
township to have the trees removed.
The green book is not definitive as it only speaks in terms of
obstructions and I could not find
where trees where mentioned specifically.
The first question is: Who is responsible for the cost of tree
removal within the road right-of-way?
Second question: If it is the landowners responsibility, would the
township supervisors have any
ability to contribute monies to the removal or would this be an
unlawful use of township funds?
obstruction statute 24-06-28 and the obstruction removal in
24-06-29 do not specify any particular objects because they
include any obstruction to the right-of-way. That would include
rocks, trees, piles of dirt or other material, it is purposely
left undefined to include what ever might be in the right-of-way.
The Township may (and should) require the landowner, or person
responsible for causing the obstruction, to remove any/all
obstructions from the right-of-way at his expense. Should the
landowner not comply with the order the Township may cause the
removal to be done and have the cost charged against the taxes.
There is a
problem with trees; they did not get to be 50 ft. tall and 2 ft.
in diameter in one season. So where was the Township Board 50
years ago when this person didn't mow this right-of-way as
required by law? How about for the 49 years since then when the
trees were smaller? Why didn't the board follow up on their demand
that the trees be removed before the 1990's? So, in
fairness, there might be some shared responsibility after the
Township allowed the trees to get so big.
cases it might be advisable to work something out, in advance of
the work being done. A contribution to a project might be put in
the budget, notify the landowner that he has to remove the trees
and if they are removed in a satisfactory manner by the end of
this year the township will contribute so many dollars to the
That being said, the Township is
not obligated to pay this fellow's bill for doing what is required
by law, those were his trees in the Township right-of-way. It
would not be good practice to allow people to run up bills against
the Township without prior approval, it is up to the electors and
board to set the budget priorities not the landowners or other
Section Line Road Maintenance
Monday, August 22, 2016
We have had a couple of requests to
perform repairs/maintenance of section line roads ( one to run the
blade over the road and one to fill in a low/wet spot with rock so
haying equipment can get over it). In the past the township has
avoided spending any money on these projects. 24-07-03.1 would
appear that any work would be done at the expense of the landowner
requesting it. Is the township required to spend money on section
line roads, or required to keep them passable at the townships
expense? No residences are on these roads, only land that the
section line is the only access to.
We are of the opinion that
the township board has discretion on how much maintenance the
township will perform on section lines. The township should act in
a manner so that the funds are spent “most expedient to the public
interests”. Most townships are pretty good at providing safe
travel conditions for the general public, especially on roads that
are most likely to be used by emergency vehicles, school buses, or
mail carriers. Beyond that, it becomes a matter of affordability
on how much more can be done. You apparently have history on your
side as to not spending money on projects that may not be for the
good of the general public as a whole.
As you indicated, NDCC 24-07-03.1 allows for an adjacent landowner
to improve the section line for his/her benefit and at his/her
expense with the approval of the controlling authority. The
township board still has final say on what may or may not be
done-see NDCC 24-06-01. Also keep in mind that anyone doing work
or making alterations on a section line- individual, contractor,
or township employee (officer) can be held liable for any claim
resulting from negligence or wrongdoing related to the work being
Who can make motions and vote at a township's annual meeting?
There has been differences
in opinion on who can make motions at a
township's annual meeting, and who gets to vote on the motions.
supervisors, or the electorate?
The township annual
meeting is not a board of supervisors meeting. The annual
meeting is a meeting of the people. In fact at the annual
meeting the board members are residents just
like everyone else. Any resident of the township can
make or second a motion and vote on its passage at the annual
meeting. The board doesn't even have to be
there. The people can hold the meeting and conduct official
township business without any board members in attendance.
It is the day that the people rule! Find all about it in
your green township handbook. (If your township township
doesn't have a handbook, call us and we'll get you one. All
townships should have at least one handbook!)
Who can not make motions,
second, vote or be elected to the board of supervisors?
Answer: Anyone who is not a resident of the township can not make
motions, second, vote or be elected to the board of supervisors.
Landowners that don't live in the township are not eligible!
Any resident who is a qualified voter can do all of these
things at a township annual meeting. Owning property in the
township does not entitle a property owner to make motions or vote
at an annual meeting. Only residents of the township can
make or second a motion and vote on its passage at a
township annual meeting.
See the question from R.G.
below for additional information.
Thank you for asking,
hope this clears up the issue.
ps. Please try to attend one of the township workshops in
your area. Or, attend the annual township officers
convention which is in Bismarck this year. It will help you
perform your duties as a North Dakota public official.
Who can vote and hold office in a Township?
understand that Township officers must live in the township. Where
in ND Century Code or Officers Handbook does it say officers must
actually reside in township?
( *Pages referenced are in the 2016 Edition of the NDTOA
Township Officers Handbook )
A Township is a precinct just like any city
or ward of any city in the country. Eligibility for both is tied
to residence. A person must be a resident of the precinct
(Township) to be eligible to vote in the Township and a person
must be eligible to vote in the Township to be eligible for
On page 61*
16.1-01-04. Qualifications of electors – Voting requirements.
1. Every citizen of the United States who is
eighteen years or older; a resident of this state; and has resided
in the precinct at least thirty days next preceding any election,
except as otherwise provided in regard to residency in chapter
16.1-14, is a qualified elector.
On page 221*
58-04-08. Who are voters at township meetings.
A person may not vote at any township meeting unless that person
is qualified to vote at general elections therein.
On page 223*
58-05-01. Voter is eligible to office.
Every person qualified to vote at a township meeting is eligible
to any township office.
*Pages referenced are in the 2016 Edition of the NDTOA
Township Officers Handbook Thank you for
your interest in township government,
Can the Township Board of Equalization reduce
the assessments done by the county assessor?
Due to the changes in requirements for the assessor we are having
the county assessor handle our assessing in the township for now.
If the township board disagrees with the assessed value of a
property do we have the right to decrease the assessed value and
if so is it done by a vote of the township board at our
equalization meeting? Century code seems to simply state that we
can "make any adjustments as we see just. "
There have been changes in this section please be sure you have
a current (2016 Edition) copy of the NDTOA Handbook or find the
current statute online.
On page 186 you will find the statutes for the Township Board
of Equalization. (Ch. 57-09)
57-09-04. Duties of board – Limitation of increase – Notice.
The township board of equalization shall ascertain whether all
taxable property in its township has been properly placed upon the
assessment list and duly valued by the assessor. In case any real
property has been omitted by inadvertence or otherwise, the board
shall place the same upon the list with the true value thereof.
The board shall proceed to correct the assessment so that each
tract or lot of real property is entered on the assessment list at
the true value thereof.
On page 187 you will find the County Board of Equalization.
On page 188:
57-12-05. Requirements to be followed in equalization of
individual assessments. The county board of equalization, when
equalizing individual assessments, shall observe the following
1. The valuation of each tract or lot of real property which is
returned below its true and full value must be raised to the sum
believed by such board to be the true and full value thereof.
2. The valuation of each tract or lot of real property which,
in the opinion of the board, is returned above its true and full
value must be reduced to such sum as is believed to be the true
and full value thereof.
So, yes the Township Board of Equalization might reduce the
valuations set by the county assessor. However unless that new
valuation can be supported by a competent appraisal the County
Board of Equalization will most likely follow the recommendation
of the county assessor and raise them back up.
A township does not have to employ the county assessor, your
current assessor can do the work but it would have to be reviewed
by a certified assessor.
Perhaps one or two of the assessors in your county, or the next
county, might take the training and become certified, these people
have 2 years to get certified.
Thank you for your interest in township government,
Tree and Brush removal within Right of Way
At our annual township meeting, we
voted to require landowners adjacent to section line township
roads, to have trees and brush cleared back 33 feet on each side
of the township road. The reason being, is that trees and brush
have grown too close to the township roads, which hamper the
movement of farm machinery and impede snow removal during the
winter time. Obviously, some of the landowners have not mowed
their ditches, causing brush and trees to grow in the ditches.
What type of formal notice do we need to do, to inform the
adjacent landowners, that they need to cut back brush and trees
within the 66 feet of section line roads? We want to give formal
notice to the landowners, to ensure adequate notice is presented.
The Supervisors may have to hire a contractor to clear
non-compliant adjacent roadsides, resulting in a bill for the
Would a Certified Letter have to be sent to all landowners with
land along the section line roads? Could a notice in the legal
section of the county newspaper suffice, as providing notice to
Thanks for the question concerning
township right of ways.
A couple areas of NDCC probably apply to this problem. Chapter
63-05 on page 247 of the 2016 version of township officers
handbook provides direction on how this problem could have been
avoided in the first place.
Most counties publish a notice every year about mowing the right
each side of the section line) and the consequences for not doing
NDCC 24-06-28 thru 24-06-31 beginning on page 82 of the 2016
version of township officers handbook may also apply in this case,
giving direction on how to deal with obstructions in the right of
way. We are of the opinion that townships, landowners, and
operators may have to work together to clear up some of these
problems that have been festering for a long time from the lack of
due diligence on the part of all involved.
township zoning board and the township board denied a zoning
request and that upset the residents of the township enough to
remove two of the township board members at the annual election.
Could the new township board reverse the decision and approve the
zoning request without a hearing?
your inquiry about township zoning procedures.
Unless there is something in your
township zoning ordinance that precludes resubmitting a zoning
someone could re-submit the original request to the zoning board
following proper procedures.
The process that was needed for the initial request would have to
be repeated for the new request.
As always, all of your township zoning ordinance procedures,
as well as the North Dakota Century Code would need to be adhered
Thank you for your interest and
participation in township government.
Annual Meeting - Can we reschedule?
If several board members will be absent for the Annual Meeting on
the third Tuesday, can it be scheduled for the following Tuesday
when all will be present?
According to NDCC Chapter 58-04 beginning on page 222 of the 2014
version of Township Officers Handbook the annual meeting must be
held on the third Tuesday of March. There is no provision in
the law for scheduling on a different day. It is not a
requirement for the board members to be present as they hold no
particular title or authority that day even if they are present.
If they are present they are merely another resident (elector) of
the township unless elected to be clerk of the meeting (if the
township clerk is not present) or judge of the election or
moderator of the meeting.
We are of the opinion
that if there are not enough qualified electors at the meeting on
the third Tuesday to conduct the meeting properly, those present
could call the meeting to order and declare a recess, due to not
enough in attendance, until a date and time in the future.
It is usually preferable to hold the meeting on the scheduled date
as quite often attendance at a postponed meeting goes down.
Township can't fill clerk/treasure position
township cannot find a person to run for township clerk/treasurer
within the boundaries of their township, what other options do
they have to fill the position?
I read in the green book that a township
clerk can be compensated up to two thousand dollars a year. Is
Also what are the wage limits on
If you absolutely,
positively, no way can get a resident of the township to serve as
clerk/treasurer(keep trying, you have another whole month yet),
you can elect a qualified person to the position and then they can
appoint a deputy clerk/treas to do the actual work-see 58-07-02 on
page 232 of the 2014 version of the handbook. It is our
understanding that the deputy does not have to be a resident of
the township as the regular clerk/treas does. If it helps to
recruit a new(younger) person, there is available a computer
software program that makes the job a lot easier than having to
use the old forms that need the same information entered manually
in several locations. We are getting much favorable feedback
on this program.
Please reread the
compensation of clerk section. It says up to sixty dollars a
day, not to exceed two thousand dollars in a calendar year.
This applies to supervisors and treasurers as well, but a merged
clerk/treas position can only receive compensation for one
Township Meetings and Roadwork
- What business can be discussed
and voted on at the annual meeting?
- Can bids be discussed and voted
on at the annual meeting or is a bid discussion and vote to be
handled at a regular meeting?
- Does the township board have to
accept the lowest gravel bid or blading bid?
- If we hire a township resident
to do some road work in conjunction with our blade operator,
does the resident need a contractor license or can he work under
the blade operators bond and license?
Thank you for your input.
- Any matters pertaining to the
affairs or operation of the township may be discussed and voted
on at the annual meeting-see NDCC 58-03-07. Some topics such as
special or excess tax levies may need proper advance notice.
- Can be done either way.
Discussion at the annual meeting shows more transparency.
- No-see NDCC 24-06-19. Lowest bid
is not necessarily most expedient for the public interests. For
example, the lowest bidder may be notorious for not performing
the work in a timely manner.
- This answer assumes “our blade
operator” means blading contractor and not a township blade
operator. If a township hires anyone, township resident or not,
they don’t necessarily need a contractors license but it is up
to the township to ensure that the person being hired has proper
liability coverage for this arrangement, whether it be under the
township’s coverage or by the person being hired having this
coverage. In order to work under the blading contractor’s bond
and license they would need to be hired by the blading
contractor as a sub-contractor or employee.