August 2012 Meeting

This month's meeting primarily consisted of discussion and information items. We continued our discussion from June of proposed policy changes for park acquisition grants. Significant changes in the proposal since the last meeting included retaining a requirement of a local match, but allowing the inclusion of land value donations from the seller towards that amount, and allowing the inclusion of environmental remediation and minimal recreational access development in eligible acquisition costs. There are also a number of clarifications and calculation specifics that still need to be discussed, although those are pretty minor. The inclusion of soil remediation is a particularly big deal for this district, since (hopefully) we will eventually have an acquisition of some portion of the TCAAP property in Arden Hills, which is likely to be done at reduced or zero cost for the actual land but still require cleanup to get to recreational use standards. There was a lot of discussion between commissioners about keeping a local match requirement and how much that match should be. Some of our credibility with the state legislature when requesting funding is dependent on there being some kind of local match, to be similar to other programs around the state, but the amount could vary. Commissioners were generally in agreement that some kind of match is a good idea, although nobody is hard-set on a particular amount. We suggested looking at how our policies would look with a 10% local match requirement in September.

Our next information item was a quick briefing on preparing for a possible bonding bill in the 2013 legislative session. This would go to the parks Capital Improvement Program (CIP), which is disbursed according to a formula based on a combination of population and park visits, including special consideration for the portion of visits that are "non-local" (from outside that park's administering agency's boundaries). Because this is based on a formula, we don't have to actually discuss how amounts would go out, so this was just an example of how the numbers would shake out for possible bonding bill amounts. These estimates included $1.2 million to $1.8 million for Anoka County and $970,000 to $1.5 million for Ramsey County (excluding St. Paul). How much of that would actually be spent in this district would be up to the park agencies who propose the projects they want to do.

Last was details of disbursements for park operations and maintenance budgets. This is an area where the Metropolitan Council provides a portion of the budgets of the park agencies for normal functioning of the parks, again sharing those funds based on a formula designed to keep them distributed fairly (this time based on budgets, number of visits, and total managed acreage). For fiscal year 2013, this worked out to $747,000 for Anoka County and $756,000 for Ramsey County (again, excluding St. Paul) - about 9% of the total available each. Compared to other districts, this covered a fairly average portion of Ramsey County's budget (11%) and an above-average portion of Anoka County's (13%).

Full meeting minutes will be available in September.


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