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Municipal Clerks and finance officers association of Minnesota

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During 1980, some research and history gathering was compiled for the Municipal Clerks and Finance Officers Association of Minnesota. For the new members, the following information will help give you some insight on our Association from its inception back in 1937 to the present.

On June 16, 1937, the Clerks and Finance Officers met in Faribault during the League of Municipalities Conference and requested approval to form an Association as an affiliate of the League. On the following pages, past officers are listed according to year, the names of the cities where the annual meetings were held, and the membership during the year (if figures were available).

Minutes of our meetings are available only from 1957 to the present. During the 1970's and 1980's there were many significant accomplishments. Following is a brief summary of these accomplishments.

The Association's present active membership has increased from 27 in 1945, to 72 in 1959, to 126 in 1970, to 510 in 1980, to 550 in 1990, to 621 in 1995. Membership in the International Institute of Municipal Clerks has also increased significantly from only 31 members in January of 1973, to 160 in January of 1980, to 349 in 1991, to 318 in 1995.

The dedicated work of many clerks throughout the state during the early 1970's made our Clerk's Manual a reality, with the Manual receiving first place in the IIMC Awards Competition in Kansas City in May of 1977. In 1992, a new committee was established to update the City Clerk's Manual over the next several years. The compilation includes an update of the initial manual, as well as incorporation of items from manuals developed by other state associations.

Another very significant accomplishment was the beginning of our Municipal Clerks Institute at the University of Minnesota in 1977. The members of the Certification Committee are to be commended for their efforts in establishing the 22nd IIMC Clerks Institute in Minnesota. Minnesota Certified Municipal Clerks receive a plaque and a pin with the MCFOA insignia and MCMC on it after attaining the specified requirements.

The Association is deeply indebted to Joe Kroll and the University of Minnesota Continuing Education Department for their dedication to the Municipal Clerks and Finance Officers Association and for their assistance in developing the Clerks Institutes, conferences, and developing and editing our Muni-Facts Newsletter, which finally became a reality after a slow beginning.

A scholarship fund was established and provided for ten $100 scholarships to applicants needing financial assistance to attend Year I, and $50 scholarships are available for the year II and Year III attendees at the Minnesota Clerks Institutes. In October of 1979, the fund was named after Tom Moran, Clerk/Finance Director from Richfield, who passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack. Tom had been a leading instructor in the field of governmental accounting and the memorial was especially appropriate because of his commitment to continuing education and increased professionalism.

The MCFOA, in conjunction with the Department of Conferences at the University of Minnesota, has co-sponsored Basic Budgeting, Modified Accrual Accounting, Records Management, and Parliamentary Procedure workshops through the state at various times of the year.

During the latter part of the 1970's, the Association became more involved with the International Institute of Municipal Clerks. Lyall Schwarzkopf, City Clerk from Minneapolis, a past IIMC Region 6 Director and President, was instrumental in organizing regional meetings with the officers of the state associations from Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota.

A logo was designed for the Association for use on letterheads, certification plaques, and our newsletter. A small lapel pin with the design on it could be purchased by any member at a cost of $1.50.

In 1979, several members of the Association were appointed to serve on a Records Retention Task Force, whose goal was to set uniform guidelines for records retention and destruction for use by all clerks throughout the state.

This model retention schedule was approved by the state agencies and mailed to every Clerk in the state in August of 1980. During 1985, a task force of City Clerks assisted the State Department of Administration, Data & Records Management Division, in compiling a "General Records Retention Schedule for Cities." This schedule was revised, reformatted, and updated by a MCFOA Committee headed by Bill Champa of Fridley in 1994.

A By-Laws Committee was established in 1980 and reviewed the Constitution and By-Laws extensively with the final recommendations approved at the annual meeting in March 1980. The Committee also reviewed the dues structure and amendments have been approved by the membership in March 1981, 1986, 1989, and 1995.

Professionalism by the Clerks in Minnesota has increased dramatically since the early 1970's, with many clerks having become certified in Minnesota (MCMC) and by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks (CMC). In 1980, an Academy for Advanced Education (AAE) was established by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks for those persons already certified and interested in improving their professional capabilities.

MCFOA of Minnesota hosted the International Institute of Municipal Clerks 37th Annual Conference held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis on May 22-26, 1983. Over 125 Minnesota Clerks and Finance Officers attended the Conference, this being the largest host state delegation to date. Attendees numbered 704 from the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Overall attendance was over 1,100, which included spouses, Institute Directors, speakers, and exhibitors. The Conference was record-setting for the largest delegate registration, most exhibitors, and educational workshops.

The 1983 Conference Co-Chairmen were Lyall Schwarzkopf, CMC, City Clerk of Minneapolis; Joyce Twistol, CMC, City Clerk of Blaine; and Al Olson, CMC, City Clerk of St. Paul. The Minnesota Conference Committee was made up of over 50 Clerks and had been preparing for the Conference for over four years. Throughout the Conference, Minnesota Clerks were identified by their uniforms: white slacks or skirts, white blouses or shirts, navy blazers, and white commodore hats--a beautiful spectacle to be seen. Minnesota Clerks are united and dedicated--we made the 1983 IIMC Conference a true success!

At the MCFOA Executive Board Meeting of November 12, 1983, the IIMC '83 Conference Committee transferred $5,800 in unexpended funds to the MCFOA treasury. All MCFOA monies extended over the previous three years to the IIMC '83 Conference Committee were repaid and the original $2,000 committed by the MCFOA was not expended.

In March of 1987, the MCFOA celebrated its 50th Anniversary. A special time was set aside for a "Clerks Reunion" and past and retired City Clerks were honored at a banquet. A booklet was prepared listing home addresses of many of the past and retired City Clerks.

The Modified Accrual Basis Accounting Manuals were completed during 1990 and workshops scheduled for the month of April 1991, in each of the four regions. The MCFOA paid instructors of the workshop a maximum of $300 for two or more instructors, limiting the main instructor to $250 per session plus necessary mileage, hotel and meal expenses. Workshops were again held in 1994, with high attendance.

The MCFOA Board voted at their January 14, 1989, meeting to allow Joe Kroll to continue on a contract basis with the University of Minnesota as Program Director for the MCFOA with all financial arrangements being internal to the University; Bev Ringsak continued as Program Associate. Contracts with Kroll Family Associates for maintaining computerized membership, certification, and scholarships were approved through 1993.

In late 1991, the MCFOA Executive Board approved contracts with Joe Kroll as the Educational Director and with Government Training Service for the administration of educational programs. The College of St. Catherine served as co-sponsor for the Municipal Clerks Institute as approved by the Executive Board on October 5 and November 16, 1991. This action was rescinded at the June 19, 1992 Board Meeting after there were problems receiving IIMC accreditation for the Minnesota Clerks Institute. MCFOA was informed by IIMC that one requirement of the Institute criteria is that a university "conduct" the Institute. IIMC clarified that their definition of "conduct" includes designing the education programs, as well as all fiscal and administrative aspects of an Institute. The Executive Board authorized signing a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Professional Development, University of Minnesota, to proceed with the MCFOA Institute for 1992.

The University of Minnesota through Program Director Dick Grefe has continued to assist with planning, development, and conduct of the Institute since 1992, and Government Training Service (Helene Johnson and Vivian Hart) has been contracted to develop, plan, and conduct the annual conference. The new position of Administrative Assistant was developed in April, 1993, with David Spencer of Tracy taking over the membership lists, certification, scholarship, and newsletter functions for the organization.

The Pat Bonniwell-Small City Scholarship Program was established during 1990 after receipt of a generous donation by retired City Clerk Pat Bonniwell. The scholarships are to be awarded in increments of $250 to applicant Clerks from cities under 1,000 population for attendance at the Municipal Clerks Institutes. Clerks are required to submit a letter stating their intent and objectives for attending the Institute. Also required is a letter from their Mayor stating support for their clerk's attendance. The scholarship award covers full tuition including meal costs, but not travel expenses.

The Etta Stephan Scholarship Fund was established during 1994 to recognize the well-liked and respected City Clerk of Breezy Point who succumbed to cancer in 1994. The fund was started by family and City Clerk donations following Etta's death, with Region II clerks conducting fund raising activities for the fund in subsequent years.

Criteria for the scholarship were developed in 1995 with input from Etta's family, the Region II clerks, and the Scholarship Committee. The scholarships are to be awarded in increments of $200 to applicant Clerks from cities under 1,000 population for registration at Year I of the Clerks Institute.

During the 1990's, MCFOA committed to further expand the educational opportunities for City Clerks. Scholarship limits were increased to ensure opportunities for Institute attendance, and regional meetings were expanded. Some regions hold monthly meetings, rather than four to six times per year as was the previous practice.

A Clerk Mentorship Program was started in 1994. This program matches new and experienced clerks for networking and develops resources for knowledge of various clerks' duties.

The adoption of a comprehensive Ethics Law by the Minnesota legislature in 1994 impacted our organization. The initial major impacts were that vendor banquets, hospitality rooms, and entertainment previously offered by vendors was eliminated; and scholarships provided by the MCFOA to its members attending the Institute were prohibited.

The Executive Committee amended the annual conference program, changed the scholarships to a grant program, and reformatted the program to allow for vendor sponsorship of program speakers and materials.

At the Annual Conference in 1996 the general membership voted to grant Don Busch, retired City Clerk, from the city of Spring Lake Park a Life Membership. Don was a long time member of the MCFOA as well as social director at our Annual Conferences.

At the March Conference in 2001 the membership of the MCFOA voted to grant Betty Backus, retired City Clerk, from the City of Coon Rapids a Life Membership. Betty was a long time member of the MCFOA and was instrumental in increasing the level of education and professionalism among the members of the Association.

2003 & 2004-The MCFOA has dedicated both money and a considerable amount of time bringing the IIMC Annual Conference to St. Paul. Shari Moore from the City of St. Paul has been spearheading the operation with the theme Learning on the River. The MCFOA has expanded their Grant Program for the IIMC Conference to send as many Minnesota Clerks as possible to give them the experience of the international fellowship. The Conference will be May 22-26, 2005 and the Minnesota Delegation will be clad in blue shirts designed with the Learning on the River logo.

2005-The IIMC Conference held in May 2005 at the St. Paul River Centre was one of the top four in attendance during the past 12 years, it broke the first time attendee record with 305 first timers attending the conference, and it shattered the host clerk attendance with 154 Minnesota Clerks attending the conference. The Opening Reception was held at the Science Museum and the Opening Ceremony featured entertainment of Irish Step Dancers and a performance by Tonic Sol Fa. There was a trip down the Mississippi River, and a live band performed two evenings, and two impressive performances from the Macalester Pipe Band.

2006-At the March Conference in 2006 held in St. Cloud the membership of the MCFOA voted to grant Sue Olesen, retired City Clerk, from the City of Burnsville a Life Membership. Sue was a long time member of the MCFOA and a key player in organizing the 2005 IIMC Conference held in St. Paul. Sue was also a former MCFOA President and IIMC State Membership Chair.

2007-At the March Conference in 2007 held in Alexandria the membership of the MCFOA voted to grant Cathy Iago, Inver Grove Heights and Sandra Behrens, Albert Lea both retired City Clerks, Life Membership awards. Both were long time members of the MCFOA and contributed many of their professional skills through committee work for the MCFOA.

2008-At the March Conference in 2008 held in Alexandria the membership of the MCFOA voted to grant Barry Sittlow, retired City Clerk from St. Paul Park a Life Membership award. Barry was a long time member of the MCFOA and was recognized for his contributions as our IIMC Region VI Vice President and many years as our IIMC membership chairman.

2011-At the March Conference in 2011 held in St. Cloud the membership of the MCFOA voted to grant Tom Ferber, retiring City Clerk, from the City of Bloomington a Life Membership. Tom was a long time member of the MCFOA former MCFOA President and has been very instrumental on the Conference Planning Committee for several years.

2012-The March Conference in 2012 was the MCFOA’s Diamond Jubilee and was again held in St. Cloud at the Kelly Inn with a number of retired members of the organization attending. The membership of the MCFOA voted to grant David Spencer, retired Finance Director, from the City of Tracy a Life Membership. David has been a member of the MCFOA since 1977 and MCFOA Administrative Assistant since the position was created in 1993.

David was also credited with increasing the organizations membership by over 40% since the Administrative Assistant’s position was created.

2013-The March Conference in 2013 was again held in St. Cloud at the Kelly Inn and because it was the MCFOA’s 76th year, President Buchholz chose the Spirit of 76 as the Conference Theme. The membership of the MCFOA voted to grant Mary Sabatke, retired Program Director from Government Training Service and Barb Nelson retired City Administrator from Spring Lake Park Life Memberships.

2014-The March Conference was held in St. Cloud at the Kelly Inn and River Centre in St. Cloud. The MCFOA membership voted to grant Theresa Goble from Brainerd a Life Membership in the organization. The members also voted to start a Master Municipal Clerk Program and add it to our training program.

2015-The March Conference was held at Treasure Island Resort and Conference Center in Welch, MN. The conference theme chosen by President Renee Eckerly was “Clerks are One in a Minion”. The Membership of the MCFOA voted to grant two Life Memberships; one to Glenys Ehlert, retired City Clerk from the City of Pelican Rapids and one to Carol Schoeneck, retiring Program Director from Government Training Service.

2016 – The March Conference was held at the Rivers Edge Convention Center (and Kelly Inn) in St. Cloud. President Terri Boese, Dassel, MN, chose “A World of Opportunities as the conference theme. The Board of Directors voted to bestow the first ever “Member of the Year” award to Deb Mangen of Edina, MN. Deb was nominated by Dan Buchholtz, Spring Lake Park, MN.

2017 – President Melissa Barker left municipal employment in August of 2016 and the Board of Directors appointed Daniel Buchholtz, City of Spring Lake Park, to fill the remainder of the 2016-2017 presidential term. The March Conference was held at Treasure Island Resort and Conference Center in Welch, MN with 282 attendees and 78 vendor booths. “Transformers – more than meets the eye” was the theme chosen by President Barker prior to her resignation. The Board of Directors voted to name Glen Pederson, City of Benson, Member of the Year. The MCFOA membership voted to grant a Life Membership to Kevin Halliday, retired City Clerk/Treasurer from the City of Willmar.

2018 – The March Conference was held at the DoubleTree Hotel in Bloomington, MN with 340 attendees and 69 vendor booths. President Janet Lewis chose the theme, “A League of Their Own”. The Board of Directors voted to honor Char Friedges, City of Lakeville, with the Member of the Year award. 36 members earned their Minnesota Certified Municipal Clerk designation and two members earned their Minnesota Master Municipal Clerk designation. The IIMC conferred the title of Certified Municipal Clerk on six members during the past year. The Board voted to send two members to the IIMC Annual Conference with silent auction proceeds. The winners of the drawing for that prize were Stephanie Pocklington, City of Pine Island, and Gina Ellingson, City of Henning.

During the 2017-2018 membership year, the By-Laws Committee, chaired by Friedges, completed a comprehensive review of the by-laws, constitution and policies of the MCFOA. Their recommended amendments were adopted by the membership at the March 22, 2018 annual meeting.

2019 – The March Conference was held in St. Cloud at the River’s Edge Convention Center and Best Western Kelly Inn. President Marita Rhude’s theme of “Make A Difference” was enhanced by providing a conference bag made of 85% recycled plastic bottles, and a water bottle for all attendees to refill throughout the week. 38 members earned designation as Minnesota Certified Municipal Clerk and 4 members earned designation as Minnesota Master Municipal Clerk. The IIMC conferred the title of Certified Municipal Clerk on 5 members, with 1 member earning the Master Municipal Clerk title during the past year. Also during the past year, IIMC recognized three MCFOA members as Athenian Leadership Society Fellows.

2020 – The 2020 Annual Conference had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 global health pandemic. The annual meeting was postponed to May 29, 2020 and was held as a combination in-person and virtual meeting with 32 members in attendance.

Both the Institute and Advanced Academy were cancelled. Very few Region meetings/trainings were held and those that were took place virtually.

Throughout the year, 31 members earned designation as Minnesota Certified Municipal Clerk and 3 members earned designation as Minnesota Master Municipal Clerk. The IIMC conferred the title of Certified Municipal Clerk on 8 members, with 1 member earning the Master Municipal Clerk title. IIMC recognized one MCFOA member as an Athenian Leadership Society Fellow. The IIMC Foundation honored Minnesota with their Step-Up Award, recognizing the largest increase in giving to the Foundation over the prior year.

Shari Moore, City of St. Paul, was nominated as the 2019-2020 Member of the Year.

2021 – The 2021 Annual Business meeting was held as a combination in-person and virtual meeting on March 18. The new Board of Directors was voted in at that time. The Annual Conference was postponed to June to ensure it would be able to be held in person with all current COVID-19 protocols in place. Due to that schedule change, and ongoing concerns with the pandemic, a lower than usual 227 attendees were welcomed to the conference, however an impressive 77 of those were first time attendees. 2021-2022 President Martin Bode graciously invited Past President Linda Rappe to host the conference. She chose the theme “Get Your Clerk Groove On”.

The Minnesota Municipal Clerks Institute was held during its normal time the first week of May, however it was a virtual Institute for the first time ever. Due to the Institute being cancelled in 2020, just three members earned designation as Minnesota Certified Municipal Clerks during the year. Two members earned their Minnesota Master Municipal Clerk designation. The IIMC conferred the title of Certified Municipal Clerk on 3 members and recognized one MCFOA member as an Athenian Leadership Society Fellow. These individuals were recognized at the awards luncheon on June 16, 2021, along with those who would have been recognized at the 2020 conference had it not been cancelled.

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Betsy Snyder - City of Milroy is our administrative assistant and can be reached at 

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