Legislative Auditor Report on Met Council Projections Creates Political Firestorm

October 04, 2017 11:21 PM

The Office of the Legislative Auditor released an audit of the Metropolitan Council Wednesday that's created sharp debate between House and Senate leaders at the state Capitol.

The audit, overall, said the Met Council is financially sound and has no major problems, but it did criticize the council for not clearly explaining how it came up with two different budget projections.

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RELATED: Met Council Chair: Reject Current SWLRT Construction Bids, Reopen Process

The OLA said the Met Council told the Legislature it needed financial help, because it faced a budget deficit in the neighborhood of $85-million. However, the Council also told the federal government that it had a projected budget surplus of $152-million, which is why the OLA indicated the Council could have been clearer with its methodologies.

House Transportation Policy Committee Chairwoman, Rep. Linda Runbeck, (R) Circle Pines, took exception to the Met Council numbers.

"This is not a rounding error, because you cannot call a $237 million dollar discrepancy a rounding error," Runbeck said. "I find it disingenous."

RELATED: Chair of Met Council Decries Proposed Cuts to Mass Transit, Light Rail

Met Council Spokesperson Kate Brickman said the council did not do anything to misrepresent its financial condition to the state, or federal government.

"The reports the council provides the state legislature is a two-year budget forecast based on forecasted revenues and expenses," Brickman said. "In contrast, the federal government requires a 10-20 year projection based on anticipated legislative and Council action, which is informed by historical action."

RELATED: House GOP Transportation Funding Plan Raises Transit Concerns

Brickman also said the $152 million surplus presented to the federal government, as it pursues funding for the Southwest Light Rail Project, is the projected reserve balance for the end of 2021.

State Senator, Scott Dibble, (DFL) Minneapolis, issued a statement that said the criticism from Republican leadership over the OLA questions were, "ditry tricks" that divide the state and is an effort to take public transit away from people who need it.

 

 

 

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