Candidates divided on issues of public transportation, MPO, job production

By Maura Wery

The two candidates for the 2nd District seat on the Riley County Commission may not be polar opposites, but they do have their own philosophies on how to run the county. Republican Robert Boyd stresses his desire to make government effective, economical and efficient. Democratic candidate Scott Seel emphasizes that in order for government to work, the parties involved have to look at all the options and pick what is best. Here is a synopsis of the candidates’ views on frequently mentioned issues in the race.

Sales tax

Boyd and Seel both support passage of the sales tax extension on the Nov, 6 ballot, but Boyd has a lot more enthusiasm for the tax than Seel. Seel says he is “reluctant to support the tax,” because he sees sales taxes as regressive, falling disproportionately on those with lower incomes. Seel remains supportive because he sees the huge out-of-area population that can share the tax burden. He also has a major issue with the way the tax question empowers the city to use its economic development portion. The new resolution permits use of the city portion of those revenues for infrastructures and also for debt reduction. Seel thinks both of those uses could be subject to interpretation as the makeup of the commission periodically changes.

“It’s like a pendulum, it swings from the left and then to the right,” Seel said.

Boyd calls the tax a “viable methodology for funding roads and bridges,” and he is encouraging voters to vote ‘yes.’

The candidates also differ on what to do if the tax fails. If that happens, Boyd said he would have to prioritize the various projects and “do some adjusting until the funds come in.” He has said he opposes the idea of increasing property tax increases to fund projects that would otherwise have been funded through the sales tax. He has said he would advocate placing improvement projects on hold until an alternative funding means can be determined.

Seel is not committing to any single course of action. He has acknowledged, however, that if the tax fails there would have to be some sort of monetary input to keep the roads in working order. “Obviously as a home-owner I do not enjoy paying property taxes and want to keep them as low as possible,” he has said. But, he added, “we need to be mindful of continued maintenance of our infrastructure.”

 

The Metropolitan Planning Organization

Seel and Boyd are both excited about the opportunity the recently approved map will bring to Manhattan and the surrounding area. They are also impressed with the Flint Hills Regional Council. Boyd sees the consolidation of these areas as the “cheapest way to conduct government. It let’s people know where we are going,” even if that means putting in money to get there.

Seel sees the collaboration of these areas extremely beneficial. “When we work with our neighbors to get mutual results for everyone, we all stand to benefit,” he said.

The candidates say their differences on this issue lie with which would be the better choice to advance county interests in the MPO. Boyd

believes that his leadership and ability to work with others from

diverse backgrounds will serve him better. “I can empathize with their point of view and I can build consensus with people,” Boyd said. He agreed, however, that achieving consensus would be difficult, particularly if the interests of others collided with those of the city of Manhattan, the lead entity.

“I understand that Manhattan is giving up control,” Boyd said about the map, which gives Ogden and Junction City a role in the MPO. “It’s Manhattan’ court and they are inviting other areas to play with them.”

This mentality is what Seel believes to be hurtful. He sees himself as a stronger “advocate of regionalism,” which he says will be best for all parties involved.” Seel









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