The topic was more about regional cooperation and distrust of motives. Basically over the past year or so elements in the regional governments have not agreed on certain policies; specifically funding fixed route bus service, the size of the MPO map and the direction for the recently approved ½ cent sales tax. Disagreement on fiscal policy is labeled distrust and or lack of cooperation. A difference in opinion concerning policy is good. We should not go along just to get along, we need to avoid falling victim to the Abilene Paradox.
We are never going to have full agreement on some items, but disagreement should not be labeled as mistrust. Take for instance the discussion on fixed route and the large MPO map. The City Commission voted not to support fixed route by majority vote of 3-2, based on budget. Some of our regional partners like fixed route and would like to have the city fund it. Members of the past Riley County Commission also wanted to spent more tax dollars on fixed route. But the fact is that Manhattan only supported aTa (50k) for services such as safe ride and on call point to point service. The mistrust that exists is that some folks believe that one of the agendas for the MPO is to champion fixed route regional bus service and force the funding of that service onto Manhattan (which pays 60% of the MPO cost). Other may believe that the City Commission just has it out to sabotage ata. Neither of those views is correct. Better communication might improve the mistrust. Everyone involved in the processes needs to clearly outline their intent and goals. We should clearly state our positions so that everyone is aware of the difference in policy outlook. The City has clearly stated that as a group we do not want to budget for or take part in fixed route bus service at this time; a simple statement of fact that should not be distorted.
On the MPO the city voted for the big map 3-2. JC approved the agreement on a 4-1 vote. Because certain members of both commissions did not agree with the cost of the MPO the votes were not unanimous. Some call it lack of cooperation, but the system produced the big map MPO. The votes are in and we will have the big map along with the six figure cost. The disagreement is over. Now we need to operate the MPO – Flint Hills MPO in the most fiscally sound manner possible. I do not see any lack of cooperation in that effort.
Local governments need to put on the table the general policy positions that are being followed by the majority; there should be no secrets. Open and clearly stated policy positions should eliminate any sense of mistrust. Differences once recognized are a fact and should not be labeled as lack of cooperation. Once the differences are determined, the groups can work towards any common goals that are identified. Like in the case of the FHMPO, we will all cooperated on keeping the cost as reasonable as possible, but we will continue to disagree on fixed route bus service for the region. That is a lot different than stating that the future Mayor told our neighbors to Pound Sand.