Metropolitan Council Facts

Fostering a prosperous region

The Metropolitan Council plans for the future of the seven-county Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area in partnership with 187 communities. We provide cost-effective transit and wastewater services, assist households with low and moderate incomes to find affordable housing, 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

photo of a man, woman, child, and dog walking down a pathThe Council’s planning and services provide a foundation for regional economic vitality. The Council: 

  • Operates Metro Transit, which carried more than 82.6 million bus and rail passengers in 2016. The agency was named the American Public Transportation Association's System of the Year in 2016.  

  • Makes strategic investments in a growing network of bus and rail transitways, and transit-oriented development. 

  • Collects and treats wastewater for 90% of the region’s population at rates well below average for similar-sized systems across the U.S., and earns state and national awards for environmental successes. 

  • Plans and funds acquisition and development of a world-class regional parks and trails system that attracts more than 47 million visitors a year. 

  • Assists about 6,500 households with low and moderate incomes to find and stay in affordable rental housing.

How the Council is governed 

The Council was established by the Minnesota Legislature in 1967. Our jurisdiction comprises the counties of Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington. 

The Council’s governing board has 17 members; they are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the governor. Sixteen members represent geographic districts of roughly equal population across the region. The Council chair, the 17th member, serves at large. The current Council Chair is Adam Duininck. He was appointed in January 2015 after serving four years on the Council, during which he chaired the Council's Transportation Committee.  

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 and water supply and quality; and community development. Administrative and service units support all major divisions. 

Major accomplishments in 2016

  • Metro Transit named 'System of the Year.' The American Public Transit Association bestowed its highest honor on Metro Transit in 2016, the Outstanding Public Transportation System Achievement Award. The award reflects accomplishments between 2013 and 2015 - growing ridership, expanding access, advances in sustainability and overall success in system safety, among others. Metro Transit was selected among agencies across North American that provide more than 20 million annual passenger trips.
  • A Line rapid bus service opens in Snelling Avenue corridor. The first of several planned rapid bus lines in busy urban corridors, the A Line offers service every 10 minutes. Travel times are reduced about 25% by limited stops, off-board ticket purchase and signal priority. Overall ridership on all modes of transit along the A Line increased by 33%. The service opened in June.
  • Southwest LRT readies for construction. The project garnered all needed local funding commitments to position itself to receive more than $900 million in federal funds, half of the construction cost for the 14-mile extension of the METRO Green Line from downtown Minneapolis southwest to Eden Prairie. The Federal Transit Administration authorized project staff to finalize designs in preparation for the start of construction in 2017.
  • Support for local government planners. The Council created a series of educational opportunities, called PlanIt, for local planners and consultants involved with local comprehensive plan updates. PlanIt includes webinars, workshops, seminars, and conferences. The Council expanded the Local Planning Handbook’s online resources with a series of online tutorials and expert articles on all things related to comprehensive planning. We also awarded nearly $1.9 million in planning grants to communities that hjave a demonstrated need for financial assistance.
  • Created the Equity Advisory Committee. The 21-member body will advise the Council in its efforts to advance equity in the region and specifically as it implements the equity commitments in Thrive MSP 2040.
  • Leased land for two large community solar gardens at the Blue Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Empire Wastewater Treatment Plant, and subscribed to 80% of the energy (40% for Metro Transit, 40% for Environmental Services) produced by the gardens. Local governments signed subscription agreements for the remaining energy produced. 
  • Initiated the 2016 Regional Solicitation for federal transportation funding of local projects. Counties, cities and other qualified organizations submitted 145 applications for $540 million to the Council; about $200 million is available. The Council's Transportation Advisory Board selected projects in January 2017.
  • Awarded nearly $21 million in Livable Communities grants to support local projects that revitalize brownfields and create jobs; spur transit-oriented development; and create affordable housing. Since the Livable Communities program became law in 1995, the Council has awarded nearly 1,000 grants totaling over $347 million to help build or rehabilitate more than 22,000 affordable housing units; clean 2,300 acres of polluted land, creating or retaining 52,000 jobs; and support development of transit-oriented, connected land uses. The grants have helped leverage billions of dollars in other public and private investments. 

Council revenues and expenditures

The Council relies on several funding sources. In 2017, 38% of the Council’s revenue will come from user fees for wastewater treatment and transit services, and 47% from state and federal funds. About 9% of revenue is raised from a seven-county property tax and 6% from other sources. 

The Council’s 2017 adopted budget expenditures totaljust over $1 billion. The operating budget of $715.7 million (71.1% of expenditures) covers daily expenses, mostly for regional transit service and wastewater treatment. Debt service (17.2%) covers payments on the Council’s long-term capital bonds and loans. Pass-through funds (11.7%) 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.