Metropolitan Council Facts
Fostering a prosperous region
The Metropolitan Council plans for the future of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area in partnership with 188 communities and seven counties. We provide cost-effective transit and wastewater services, plan for effective transportation in the region, assist households with low and moderate incomes to find housing they can afford, and support communities as they plan for anticipated growth. Our mission is to foster efficient and economic growth for a prosperous metropolitan region.
The Council develops, in cooperation with local communities, a Regional Development Framework — a set of policies to guide the efficient growth of the region and help maintain the region’s economic competitiveness. The current framework is Thrive MSP 2040. The desired outcomes of Thrive are stewardship, prosperity, equity, livability and sustainability. We measure all of the Council's policies and services by these outcomes.
Supporting the region's economic vitality
Our planning and services provide a foundation for regional economic vitality. We:
Operate Metro Transit, which carried 79.9 million bus and rail passengers in 2018. The agency was named the American Public Transportation Association's System of the Year in 2016.
Make strategic investments in a growing network of bus and rail transitways, and transit-oriented development.
Collect and treat wastewater for 90% of the region’s population at rates 41% below average for similar-sized systems across the U.S., and earn state and national awards for environmental successes.
Plan and fund acquisition and development of a world-class regional parks and trails system that attracts more than 58 million visits each year.
- Assist 7,200 households with low and moderate incomes to find and stay in affordable rental housing.
How the Council is governed
The Minnesota Legislature created the Council in 1967. Our jurisdiction comprises the counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington.
The Council’s governing board has 17 members who are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the governor, currently Gov. Tim Walz. Sixteen members represent geographic districts of roughly equal population across the region. The Council chair, the 17th member, serves at large. Charlie Zelle serves as chair.
The role of Council members is to provide a regional perspective and work toward a regional consensus on issues facing the metropolitan area. All meetings of the Council and its subcommittees are open to the public.
Council staff is organized in four major divisions that focus on: transportation planning; transit operations; wastewater treatment, water supply and water quality; and community development. Administrative and service units support all major divisions.
Highlights in 2018
- Leading on renewable energy. The Council is a leader in sustainable and renewable energy use. In the last decade, efforts to conserve and recover energy in wastewater operations have yielded an annual savings of more than $3.5 million for our customers. In 2018, we began a new partnership with Xcel Energy to make all of our electricity purchases 100% renewable by 2040.
- Easing the burden of the sewer availability charge on businesses. The Council approved changes that simplified how the sewer availability charge (SAC) is calculated. As a result, many SAC determinations are faster, easier and simpler; determinations on remodels are resulting in fewer “surprise” charges; SAC credits are simpler to obtain; and restaurants receive twice the amount of free outdoor space for patio and sidewalk seating.
- Maintaining and renewing valuable wastewater infrastructure. The Council continued its 10-year, $1 billion region-wide initiative that began in 2013 to accelerate the work of updating and improving aging wastewater collection and treatment facilities. The Council estimates the value of the region's investment in eight treatment plants, 600 miles of interceptor pipe, and metering and lift stations at $7 billion.
- Reviewing local comprehensive plans. Under state law, every 10 years the Council is responsible for reviewing the updated local comprehensive plans of seven counties and 181 cities and townships in the region. By the end of 2018, Council staff had made preliminary reviews of more than half the region's comprehensive plans, setting up local governments for a smoother official review process in 2019.
- Partnering with communities on redevelopment and development. In the 2018 funding cycle, the Council awarded more than $25 million in Livable Communities grants to support local projects that revitalize brownfields and create jobs; spur transit-oriented development; and create affordable housing. The grants help leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in other public and private investments.
- Continued expansion of arterial rapid bus network. Following construction in 2018, METRO C Line rapid bus service is expected to open in 2019. The line will provide speedier and more frequent service from downtown Minneapolis north to Brooklyn Center, largely on Penn Avenue North. Planning is well under way on the D Line and has begun on the E Line.
- Improving the bus stop experience. In 2018, Metro Transit completed its initiative to install new signs at all 12,000 bus stops in its service area. The improved signage, the result of community outreach and engagement, includes route numbers, a unique stop number and instructions on how to access NexTrip real-time arrival information. Signage at high ridership stops also includes detailed schedule information, maps and routes serving the stop.
- Officials hold groundbreaking for METRO Green Line extension (Southwest LRT). After 20 years of planning, the groundbreaking marked the work of partnerships with federal, county and local governments, organizations and members of the communities all along the line. The $2 billion project will be the largest infrastructure project in the state’s history and is expected to create 7,500 construction jobs with an estimated $350 million payroll. The 14.5-mile line will bring riders from Minneapolis southwest to Eden Prairie.
Council revenues and expenditures
The Council relies on several funding sources. In 2018, 37% of the Council’s revenue came from user fees for wastewater treatment and transit services, and 49% from state and federal funds. About 8% of revenue is raised from a seven-county property tax and 6% from other sources.
The Council’s 2019 adopted budget expenditures total $1.1 billion. The operating budget of $789.9 million (71.2% of expenditures) covers daily expenses, mostly for regional transit service and wastewater treatment. Debt service of $134.1 million (16.7%) covers payments on the Council’s long-term capital bonds and loans. Pass-through funds totaling $122.7 million (12.1%) come primarily from federal sources (and some state funds) that the Council receives and allocates to local governments, agencies, and rental property owners for transportation, regional parks, rent assistance, and other programs.