The Metropolitan Council, commonly abbreviated Met Council or Metro 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 are unique in that unlike the Regional Development Commissions they can supersede decisions and actions of local governments. The legislature created the Metro Council to maintain public services, oversee growth of the state's largest metro area and to act as the regional planning organization. Like the Metro in Portland, Oregon it also administers 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, sewage 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."
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 Peter Bell the Council Chair and Tom Weaver the Regional Administrator.
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.
The Council delivers regional services to communities and the public through these divisions and operating areas:
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.
|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 - 2015||Mark Dayton|
|Adam Duininck||2015 - 2017||Mark Dayton|
|Alene Tchourumoff||2017 - 2019||Mark Dayton|
|Nora Slawik||2019 -||Tim Walz|
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). 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, the Star Tribune, and even online editorials like Politics In Minnesota.
Keegan Iversen, a Libertarian candidate for state auditor in the 2014 election, has called for the elimination or restructuring of the Council. Iversen has questioned the Councils constitutionality citing its 501(c)(4) status not in compliance with Minnesota Constitutional requirements. The legislature may authorize municipal corporations to levy and collect assessments for local improvements upon property benefited thereby without regard to cash valuation.
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. However, most of the responsibilities of the Metropolitan Council would still need to be maintained, including a Metropolitan Planning Organization that allows the region to receive federal transportation funding. In essence, the Metropolitan Council operates in ways similar to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.