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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hampton OKs proposed Met Council changes

3/17/2016 8:18:00 PM
Hampton OKs proposed Met Council changes

by Sandy Hadler

Chris Gerlach, a Dakota County Commissioner, and Wendy Wulff, of the Metropolitan Council, were in attendance at the Hampton City Council meeting to discuss the Metropolitan Governance Coalition. 

Gerlach said he didn't feel the current Governance Coalition is serving the member's needs. He said, "The plan seems to be out of touch, like we are on the outside looking in. I feel it isn't serving our needs. We came up with the root problem. Our conclusion is that it is a governance issue. Instead of bottom-up grass roots, it is a top-down agenda. The Met Council can't fix it itself. So we decided to put together a series of principles."

He added, "We acknowledge that the Met Council is run as a state agency. We must decide if this is good or not so good. The pendulum is one-sided. In our opinion there is too much centralized control. Also, regarding governance, where is the regional leadership? We want local government officials to be more independent than they are today." 

Gerlach explained that a group of local governments, throughout the metropolitan area, have joined together to develop a position statement and a set of principles for improving the Governance in the Twin Cities.

He said the Coalition supports the need for regional planning, collaboration and coordination, but seeks to expand local government representation on the Metropolitan Council.

The following is the Coalition's Statement of Belief: The Metropolitan Council, due to its taxing and policy authority, should be accountable to a regional constituency of those impacted by its decisions. It should not operate as a state agency, as it does in its current form, answerable to only one person, the Governor. 

The following are the Principles for the Metropolitan Council Reform:

•A majority of the members of the Metropolitan Council shall be elected officials, appointed from cities and counties within the region.

•Metropolitan cities shall directly control the appointment process for city representatives to the Metropolitan Council.

•Metropolitan counties shall directly appoint their own representatives to the Metropolitan Council.

•The terms of office for any Metropolitan Council members appointed by the Governor shall be staggered and not coterminous with the Governor.

•Membership on the Metropolitan Council shall include representation from every metropolitan county government. 

•The Metropolitan Council shall represent the entire region, therefore voting shall be structured, based on population, and will incorporate a system of checks and balances. 

Hampton agreed to support the Coalition's proposed changes. Wulff told Council members to call her any time, if they have questions.

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