Metropolitan Council

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The Metropolitan Council or Met Council is the regional governmental agency and metropolitan planning organization in Minnesota serving the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan area. The Met Council is granted regional authority powers in state statutes by the Minnesota Legislature. These powers can supersede decisions and actions of local governments. The legislature entrusts the Council to maintain public services and oversee growth of the state's largest metro area. This agency is similar to Metro in Portland, Oregon in that both agencies administer an urban growth boundary.

The Council's role in the Twin Cities metro area is defined by the necessary regional services it provides and manages. These include public transportation, wastewater treatment, regional planning, urban planning for municipalities, forecasting population growth, ensuring adequate affordable housing, maintaining a regional park and trails system, and "provides a framework for regional systems including aviation, transportation, parks and open space, water quality and water management."[1]

Governance and structure[edit]

The Met Council currently has 17 members, 16 of which represent a geographic district in the seven-county area with one chair who serves "at large." All members are appointed by the Governor of Minnesota and are reappointed with each new governor in office. The Minnesota Senate may confirm or reject each appointment. In 2007, Governor Tim Pawlenty appointed the Council Chair to Peter Bell and the Regional Administrator to Tom Weaver.

The seven counties in the Council's Twin Cities Metropolitan Area are Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, and Washington counties.

Geographic districts vary in characteristics but were historically drawn by population percentage and the presence of major natural resources. Districts near the downtown core are much smaller while the edge districts encompass large amounts of rural land. For example, District 3 contains almost all of Lake Minnetonka and its tributaries and watershed.

Duties[edit]

The Council delivers regional services to communities and the public through these divisions and operating areas:

  • Regional Administration/Chair's Office - Generally sets the goals and direction the Council will take with the metro area. It also manages finances and makes budget decisions on how shared funding and grant programs are distributed amongst the region.
  • Community Development - The majority of land use, regional, urban, and community planning occur with this division. It also develops and administers regional and municipal frameworks as well as the long-range vision plans.
  • Environmental Services - MCES is mandated to address water quality, water supply, and sewage treatment. It also has full jurisdiction of the wastewater treatment system (within the MUSA boundary). This includes maintenance and construction of wastewater interceptors and operation of seven wastewater treatment plants throughout the metro area. Treatment of drinking water and storm run-off water management are left to municipalities.
  • Municipal Urban Service Area (MUSA) - While not a division, the MUSA is an urban growth boundary which instead of limiting development, limits the services and infrastructure needed for development. The most important service of which is connection to the sewage treatment system. Growth is controlled because state law prohibits disastrous septic tank systems and most cities require development to be connected to a system.

History[edit]

In 1967 the Minnesota Legislature created the Metropolitan Council in response to growing issues of septic tank wastewater contamination. During that time, it was recognized there were systematic problems which transcended coordination of any one agency. There were more than 200 municipal agencies in existence then.

Additional acts of the legislature passed in 1974, 1976, and 1994 expanded the role and powers of the Met Council, merging it with transit and waste control commissions to become a unified regional authority.

Met Council Chairs[edit]

Chair Term Appointed by
James L. Hetland Jr. 1967 – 1971 Harold LeVander
Albert Hofstede 1971 – 1973 Wendell Anderson
John E. Boland 1973 – 1979 Wendell Anderson
Charles R. Weaver Sr. 1979 – 1982 Al Quie
Gerald J. Isaacs 1983 – 1984 Rudy Perpich
Sandra S. Gardebring 1984 – 1986 Rudy Perpich
Steve Keefe 1986 – 1991 Rudy Perpich
Mary E. Anderson 1991 – 1992 Arne Carlson
Dottie Rietow 1992 – 1995 Arne Carlson
Curtis W. Johnson 1995 – 1999 Arne Carlson
Ted Mondale 1999 – 2003 Jesse Ventura
Peter Bell 2003 – 2011 Tim Pawlenty
Susan Haigh 2011- Mark Dayton

Controversy[edit]

Shortly after the Minnesota elections, 2010, Minnesota Legislative Auditor James Nobles recommended on 21 January 2011 that "the Legislature should restructure the governance of the Metropolitan Council" (page 41).[4] The Legislative Auditor continued stating that "Maintaining an appointed Met Council would continue the Council’s accountability problems ... Because Council members are appointed by the governor, however, they are not directly accountable to the public for (their) decisions." This lack of credibility and accountability was reported on by newspapers such as the St. Paul Pioneer Press,[5] the Star Tribune,[6] and even online editorials like Politics In Minnesota.[7]

Marty Seifert, a Republican candidate for governor in the 2014 election, has called for the abolition of the Council, citing it as an unelected authority with taxation powers without representation. It's that what we fought the American Revolution to prevent? [8]

References[edit]

External links[edit]