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Towns across the state brought in nearly $280 million in revenues last year, according to a Minnesota State Auditor’s report released Thursday that provides a glimpse of their income, spending and population.

A description of the difference between cities and towns can be found here. In short, most towns are governed by a three-member board of supervisors, while cities are governed by councils. Towns generally have fewer powers than cities, although some may hold city-like powers.

According to the Minnesota State Demographer:

  • There were 1,784 towns in Minnesota last year, compared to 853 cities and 87 counties.
  • The 919,051 residents of towns make up about 17.5 percent of the state’s population.
  • Minnesota’s town populations range from 11,089 in White Bear in Ramsey County to just five residents in Hangaard, in Clearwater County.
  • Populations of 300 or less make up 52 percent of Minnesota towns.

According to State Auditor Rebecca Otto’s report:

  • Minnesota towns made $279.3 million last year, a 3.1 percent increase over the total revenues reported in 2011. The jump is likely understated since the number of towns that failed to report last year (176) is double that of 2011 (86). Analysis of just the towns that reported both years shows a 7.2 percent increase in revenue.
  • Towns spent $253.7 million last year, a 4 percent drop from 2011. The primary cause was once again the number of towns that failed to report last year, the report said.
  • Towns spent $13.3 million on debt service expenditures, or the principal and interest payments on outstanding debts. It’s a 5.8 percent increase from 2011.
  • Outstanding long and short-term debts totaled $69.1 million last year, a 4.1 percent drop from 2011. Other long-term debt totaled $22.6 million for an 8.3 percent drop.
  • Town revenues in actual dollars jumped $32.7 percent between 2003 and 2012. Adjusted for inflation, revenues dropped nearly 4 percent over the same period.
  • The share of revenue from taxes jumped from 63 percent in 2003 to 74.5 percent in 2012
  • In inflation-adjusted dollars, total town expenditures dropped 8.7 percent between 2003 and 2012. In actual dollars, those expenditures grew 26.1 percent over the same 10 years.

Read the full report, complete with charts and graphs here.