Minnesota Sen. Mark Koran called for abolishing the Metropolitan Council, whose members are entirely unelected, in response to a damning new report issued Wednesday by the legislative auditor.
The report into the Met Council’s mismanagement of the Southwest light rail project found that the council was not transparent with the public, committed itself to spending more money than it had available, and knew that its initial estimates were incomplete.
The 14.5 mile extension from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie is now $700 million over budget and four years behind schedule.
Koran said he plans to reintroduce legislation to “end” the Met Council and return oversight of major infrastructure projects to cities, counties, and the legislature, which “must meet necessary transparency and accountability measures.”
“One thing is clear after the audit today: the wasteful spending and obfuscation by the Metropolitan Council during the planning and construction of Southwest Light Rail, and their slowness to comply with the [legislative auditor’s] requests, means their time wasting our taxpayers’ dollars should come to an end,” said Koran, co-chair of the Legislative Audit Commission.
Democrats are warming up to the GOP’s calls for reform, with the DFL chairs of the House and Senate transportation committees saying in a Wednesday statement that it should be an elected body.
“The lack of prior planning, an enforceable schedule, competitive bid process, and peer review process all led to increased costs and long delays,” Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Frank Hornstein said in a joint statement. “The Metropolitan Council knew that problems were present yet did not share these concerns until much later.”