September 2012 Meeting

Once again, we spent a fair bit of time discussing proposed rule changes for acquisition grants. Really I don't think members of the commission actually disagree much on what these should be, but since the majority of the commission is relatively new at this we've had to spend a lot of time learning about past procedures and interactions with the legislature years ago, and figuring out what is politically feasible - something we don't normally spend a lot of time dealing with as a generally non-political body. The main issue of debate has been how to handle "local match" requirements (money the county / implementing agency has to put up to receive funds from the Metropolitan Council), and how those compare to requirements for park agencies in greater Minnesota. Ultimately, most of us and the park agency staff would like to see the 25% local match either decreased or dropped (especially since there's actually already a local match involved in how Metropolitan Council bonds work), but recognize that doing so isn't a politically good idea, so are willing to keep it. We did at least end up discarding one proposal that would have made the match more complicated (referred to in the minutes as "Rule 4"), relating to how donations from a parcel seller impact the local match. Things are still a bit more complicated to calculate than I'd like to see, but they seem workable now. We passed a recommended new policy (finally) to forward on to the Metropolitan Council, and assuming they approve it the proposal will then go to a public hearing on November 19th, with comments accepted through November 30th.

Our only other action item at this meeting was approval of a "grant scope" request for Dakota County, which basically means shifting money around between projects within one implementing agency as the projects near completion and more exact final costs are known.

We also received reports from Metropolitan Council staff regarding how we might respond to a possible bonding bill if one is proposed in the legislature next spring and how the "operations and maintenance" funds would be distributed to the implementing agencies (which is done according to a pre-determined formula).

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