The Riley County Commission is sending a letter to the Manhattan City Commission urging that body not to block the Area Transportation Agency’s participation in a technical advisory committee to the Metropolitan Planning Organization.
City commissioners will decide Tuesday whether ATA bus will get a vote on that committee. (See story below.) County counselor Clancy Holeman told county commissioners the decision might divide city commissioners, and might also prompt some of them to try to revisit the issue of MPO boundaries. Several weeks ago city commissioners agreed on a 3-2 vote to adopt a map including both Junction City and Fort Riley. County commissioners expressed concern Monday that losing the regional aspect would cause them “to start over again,” on the MPO.
“We don’t want this to happen,” Commissioner Karen McCulloh said. Commissioners agreed that the question about whether ATA votes on the TAC board should be a large enough issue that it would cause the map to shrink.
“It’s difficult for me to understand why the city wouldn’t want to embrace the regional aspect,” McCulloh said. Commissioner Dave Lewis said it isn’t about the ATA bus to begin with, but more about the power struggle between regions within the MPO.
“I think the city’s goal is to have as much control as possible,” Lewis said. “The regional map isn’t enough power for them. They said they did not like the voting arrangements and the general gist I get from the city is there isn’t enough control for them.”
The commission decided to send a letter to Manhattan city manager Ron Fehr expressing its feeling that the ATA committee vote isn’t a big enough issue to tackle at this stage.
Anne Smith, director of ATA, said it was important for her program to have a voice on such issues as funding of new buses. That would be especially important, she said, if the map including Junction City and Fort Riley was abandoned in favor of a map centered solely on Manhattan. If that happened and the bus program went to the MPO to ask for funds for new buses, the Manhattan City Commission could say no and without a vote on the TAC board, ATA bus would lose its ability to object.
But Smith said the vote isn’t enough to make her fight.
“Yes, it would be nice for a vote,” she said. “But we aren’t going to draw a line in the sand over this.”