Parks Funding & Finance
Funding the regional parks system
The Council allocates state and regional funds for ongoing acquisition, development and non-capital projects such as environmental education for the parks system. Between 1974 and 2014, the Council authorized a total of $626.9 million in grant funds for those purposes.
Funding for the grants comes from state bonds, regional bonds issued by the Council, monies from the Minnesota Environmental Trust Fund (recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources), Land and Legacy Fund monies, and interest earnings. See Celebrating 6 Years of Legacy Parks and Trails Success (pdf).
Park Acquisition Opportunity Fund grants
Park Acquisition Opportunity Fund (PAOF) grants are intended to help regional park agencies acquire land within Metropolitan Council-approved regional park and trail master plan boundaries. These grants finance up to 75% of acquisition costs within a limit per park agency and require matching funds to finance 25% of the costs.
More about the PAOF grant application process, and the rules that guide the disbursement of PAOF grants (pdf).
Operation and maintenance funds
The Council also allocates state funds to regional park implementing agencies - metro area cities, counties and special park districts - to cover a share of the cost of parks operation and maintenance every year. In 2014, the Council distributed almost $9 million to the 10 park implementing agencies for parks operations and maintenance, which covered about 9.1% of their costs.
The regional park agencies prepare master plans describing park or trail unit boundaries, location of recreation and visitor support facilities, and estimate the costs to acquire, develop and operate/maintain the park or trail unit. The Council reviews and approves these master plans based on their consistency with the Council‘s Regional Parks Policy Plan.
The Council provides the Minnesota state legislature with an annual report detailing how funds have been used to support the regional parks system.
Priority project list
The Updated Metropolitan Regional Park System Prioritized Project List for Parks and Trails Fund Fiscal Years 2016-17 contains the Metropolitan Council’s recommended list of projects proposed to be financed from Fiscal Year 2016-17 Parks and Trails Fund appropriations. It is prepared in compliance with Laws of MN 2013, Chapter 137, Article 3, Section 4 (o) which states:
“By January 15, 2015, the [Metropolitan] council shall submit a list of projects, ranked in priority order, that contains the council's recommendations for funding from the parks and trails fund for the 2016 and 2017 biennium to the chairs and ranking minority members of the senate and house of representatives committees and divisions with jurisdiction over the environment and natural resources and the parks and trails fund.”
The report is updated from the January 15 report to reflect the February 2015 revenue forecast. That forecast added $402,000 to the recommended biennial appropriation and subsequently changed amounts proposed for some projects in the report.