LTE: It’s past time to get rid of Met Council

To the editor,

The notion of unelected governance should repulse citizens at the very thought. This is something you might expect in a third world dictatorship. Yet this concept is what gives the Met Council its regional governing authority over some 3 million metro-wide residents. From 1967 the council represents “mission creep” from its beginnings coordinating bus routes and sewer lines. Now with a yearly budget of $1 billion and 3,200 employees, this unelected body dictates to the area by holding permits and monies available from local and federal sources. Seventeen members serve at the pleasure of the sitting governor, wielding a “big stick” usurping control from townships, cities and counties.

The most recent outbreak of their bullying tactics are to the city of Oak Grove in Anoka County. Met Council members are fighting to dictate local residential lot size. The council is imposing their own standards and undoubtedly will hold up permitting, yet trying to showcase how well they work with local governments. Anyone familiar with “public input” sessions, know how they really work.

The ongoing struggle over Southwest Light Rail funding should be the last straw in the acceptance of this governmental boondoggle. At nearly $2 billion and a cost of $128 million per mile, the council is undaunted, even with the looming trial of the Lakes Park Alliance lawsuit. The level of arrogance is astounding as they attempt to create a Euro-metropolitan transit system. A system that is unsustainable with the paltry “fare box” returns of between 22 – 33 percent. Yet Gov. Dayton and the council want to impost a .5 percent metro-wide sales tax as they face a fiscal shortfall of $122 million. All the while we struggle to fund statewide infrastructure repair. The much heralded business expansion assumes it would not have taken place elsewhere but for the presence of a transit line.

It is a positive sign to read that Republican legislators have written to Sec. of Transportation Chao with the recommendation to deny the Met Council its SWLRT funding of $928 million. This, by the way, is in addition to funding requests in place for the Bottineau Line ($753 million) and the Orange Line ($65 million), according to a Federal Transit Authority fact sheet. The hubris of the council would make the Minnesota Sports Facility Commission blush with envy.

The Met Council is creating a scenario of significant funding shortfall for future generations. As their concept of metro transit is being created, there are no identifiable means in place to pay for future infrastructure upkeep. Their answer will simply be to tax others for their utopian paradise. This will put extreme pressure on Minnesotans and will extend to outstate taxpayers as well. It is time to recognize the injustice of this authority and relegate it to the trash heap of failed experiments. Minnesotans deserve better.

Joe Polunc