District Council FAQ
What do district councils do?
District councils are each involved in work to improve the physical, social and economic structures in their neighborhood. The activity common to all district councils is the development of a district plan (sometimes referred to as a neighborhood plan) that is reviewed by the Planning Commission, City Council and the Metropolitan Council--the region's metropolitan planning organization--before being adopted as part of the city's Comprehensive Plan. The Comprehensive Plan is a key tool used by the city to guide law-making and budgeting. District plans are an opportunity for residents to influence how those laws and budgets impact their neighborhoods. Along with this critical planning work, district councils may also be involved in:
- Reviewing community development proposals
- Advocating for park and recreation center improvements
- Coordinating community gardens and neighborhood beautification projects
- Promoting environmental action through volunteering and advocacy
- Organizing block clubs and working with the police department and other city agencies to improve public safety
District councils rely on community-building activities and events as the basis for convening residents to become involved in their neighborhood. These include neighborhood forums, festivals, parades and block parties.
Are district councils part of city government?
No. District councils are 501(c)(3) nonprofits with voluntary, unpaid boards of directors composed of members elected by their neighbors. The elections are held according to the by-laws of the organization, not the rules governing public elections. As private organizations they are also not subject to the State of Minnesota's Government Data Practices Act. District councils each contract with the city on an annual basis for the purpose of provided community engagement services in their respective districts through the Community Engagement Program.
How much money do district councils receive from the city?
The Community Engagement Program includes a budget of just under $1.2 million in 2018. This money is allocated to the 17 district councils on a formula basis. Along with these funds, district councils receive money from city government through the Community Organization Partnership Program, the "All In" program and other neighborhood development funding programs. You can find more information regarding their funding here.
Besides funding, how else does the city support district councils?
The city provides several forms of support to district councils as part of the collaboration with neighborhood organizations. District councils receive technical assistance from city planners and other city staff regarding issues that are important to the neighborhood, including the development of a district plan. Additionally, the Community Engagement Coordinator is available to district council staff and board members for technical assistance including organizational management coaching, resource navigation and connecting to city staff.
Who oversees district councils?
District councils are 501(c)(c) nonprofits with voluntary, unpaid boards of directors composed of members elected by their neighborhoods. The organizations are accountable to their boards who are, in turn, accountable to the people who have elected them. District councils contract with the city to provide community engagement services in their respective districts through the Community Engagement Program. Those contracts are managed by staff in the Department of Planning & Economic Development.
Are district council board members paid?
No. District councils are 501(c)(3) nonprofits with voluntary, unpaid boards of directors composed of members elected by their neighbors. Further, Minnesota state law requires the disclosure of potential of conflicts of interest in order to prevent members of the boards of directors, their colleagues or family members from profiting from their service on the board.
When are district council elections?
Each district council holds their election at a different time of year according to the organization's bylaws. Information regarding annual meetings and elections can be found in the organization's profile under our District Council Directory.