Lake Henry Township puts separation issue on ballot

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 2/16/00.

On March 14, voters in Lake Henry Township will. be asked if the township should be a separate governing unit from the city of Lake Henry.

At present, when the township has an election, city residents are eligible to vote. However, when the city has an election, township residents are not allowed to vote.

"We started talking about this separation over a year ago," said Ralph Klassen, Lake Henry Township clerk.

A spokesperson at the Secretary of State's office said this issue dates back to antiquity when the distinction between city and township was blurry.

Lake Henry is one of three townships in the state where the city can vote on township issues. According to Klassen the other two are Spring Hill and St. Martin. "Melrose changed their statute several years ago," Klassen added.

In order to put the issue on the ballot, at least 50 of the township residents needed to sign a notice stating the question will be voted on at the next annual meeting. The notice was filed with the township clerk and at the Stearns County Court House. Only voters residing in the township are eligible to vote on the question, according to Minnesota Statutes 1999, Chapter 365.44.

Lake Henry Mayor Dan Liebl said it didn't make any difference to the city if the two entities were separated.

Barb Hess, a city resident who formerly served as city clerk, said it only makes sense to separate the city from the township. "I don't feel a lot of city residents ever voted on township issues," Hess said.

Township elections and annual meetings will be held on Tuesday, March 14.

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