- For information about the legislative body of Nashville, see Metropolitan Council (Davidson County). See Metropolitan Toronto for information about the Metropolitan Toronto Council.
The Metropolitan Council is the regional governmental agency (also known as a regional planning organization, see Metropolitan planning organization) in Minnesota serving the Twin Cities seven-county metropolitan area (see Minneapolis-St. Paul). 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 (see Metro (Oregon regional government)) 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.
Governance and Structure
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 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.
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 it's tributaries and watershed.
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.
- Transportation - This division is known as Metro Transit to the public and administers all bus and light rail lines. It also analyzes and develops future transportation options however road and street corridor planning is left to county and city governments. Highways are planned and managed by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Additional public transit agencies also exist under an opt-out agreement of Metro Transit service. The largest agencies are Southwest Metro Transit in the west and Minnesota Valley Transportation Authority in the south.
- 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 eight 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.
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