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Legislative Audit Commission


January 26, 2000

The meeting of the Legislative Audit Commission was called to order by Representative Dan McElroy on Wednesday, January 26, 2000 at 1:05 P.M. in Room 316, State Capitol.

Members Present:

Representative Lynda Boudreau    Senator William Belanger
Representative Phil Carruthers Senator Sheila Kiscaden
Representative Chris Gerlach Senator Keith Langseth
Representative Peggy Leppik Senator Thomas Neuville
Representative Dan McElroy Senator Claire Robling
Representative Wes Skoglund Senator Deanna Wiener

Members Excused:

Representative Mindy Greiling Senator Dave Johnson
Representative Kris Hasskamp Senator David Knutson
Representative Philip Krinkie Senator James Metzen
Representative Mary Jo McGruire    Senator Ember Reichgott Junge

Representative McElroy indicated the first item on the agenda was release and review of the program evaluation report on state park management. He recognized Roger Brooks, Deputy Legislative Auditor for the Program Evaluation Division. Mr. Brooks reviewed changes in the format of program evaluation reports. He then reviewed the reasons why the Legislative Audit Commission chose this topic and summarized several of the report's findings.

Mr. Brooks introduced Susan Von Mosch, manager of the study, and evaluation specialists Jan Sandberg and Tim Showalter-Loch. Ms. Von Mosch reviewed the questions addressed by the study, research methods used, and what subjects were and were not included in the study. She reviewed background information on how state parks are managed, conclusions reached, and recommendations contained in the report.

Representative McElroy recognized Steve Morse, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Natural Resources and Bill Morrisey, State Parks Director. Deputy Commissioner Morse briefly reviewed the agency's response to the study and some plans for future DNR parks projects. Mr. Morrisey reviewed how resources are allocated to the various parks. Both Mr. Morse and Mr. Morrisey answered questions from members concerning distribution of staff, use of volunteers and the types of work they can and cannot do.

Representative McElroy indicated the next agenda item was release and review of the program evaluation report on mandates to local governments. He recognized James Nobles, Legislative Auditor. Mr. Nobles reviewed the reasons why the Commission chose this topic, and indicated that the study found many local officials were not happy with state mandates and the relationship between state and local government.

Mr. Nobles introduced Jo Vos, manager of the study, and evaluation specialist Carrie Meyerhoff. Ms. Vos reviewed what the study did and did not look at. She reviewed research methods used and indicated one major finding was that the majority of local government officials feel the state is unresponsive to local needs. In response to questions concerning what local government officials perceived to be a mandate rather than a restriction, Mr. Nobles indicated the term “mandate problem” means different things to different people. Ms. Vos continued her presentation by reviewing some of the tools in place to address mandates and concerns with them. She indicated the reports recommends no major structural changes and that local governments make greater use of the tools already available to them.

Representative McElroy recognized Charlie Meyer, Chair of the Best Practices Advisory Council and City Manager for the City of St. Louis Park. Mr. Meyer reviewed his response contained in the printed report and answered questions from members.

Representative McElroy recognized Brandt Richardson, Dakota County Administrator and past Chair of the Best Practices Advisory Council. Mr. Richardson reviewed the impact unfunded mandates can have on local governments and hoped that the Legislature would refer to the report when looking at property tax reform. Both Mr. Richardson and Mr. Meyer answered questions from members.

Representative McElroy recognized Amy Caucett, Olmsted County Legislative Policy Analyst. Ms. Caucett indicated that they had submitted a number of requests to the Board of Government Innovation and Cooperation, but only one was approved. She indicated they had found the process to be too much work and that it was easier to go directly to the Legislature to ask for a remedy.

Representative McElroy recognized Jim Gelbman, Director of the Board of Government Innovation and Cooperation. Mr. Gelbman briefly summarized eligibility criteria in order to be granted a waiver. He noted that the number of applications requesting a waiver was down.

The meeting adjourned at 3:25 p.m.

Representative Dan McElroy, Chair

Jean Barnhill, Recording Secretary


Office of the Legislative Auditor ♦ Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155