The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
Back in 2002, area counties and cities were dragged, with great reluctance, into forming a regional planning commission (RPC). The impetus for this was to avoid highway blackmail – if we didn't have an RPC, the area wouldn't get any highway projects. At the time, I pointed out that city and county governments in the 4-couty area would have to come up with around $65,000 to support the initial activities. I also pointed out that the statutes establishing these RPCs (Missouri Revised Statutes, Chapter 251) are rather broad: Section 251.320 says in part "The regional planning commission shall have the function and duty of making and adopting a comprehensive plan for the development of the region." It further states, "The comprehensive plan shall be made with the general purpose of guiding and accomplishing a coordinated, adjusted and harmonious development of the region which will, in accordance with existing and future needs, best promote public health, safety, morals, order, convenience, prosperity or the general welfare, as well as efficiency and economy in the process of development."
Well, guess what – they're doing their "comprehensive plan" at considerable expense. All this takes money and people. The RPC hired a director right off the bat, and best I can tell has since expanded its staff. Staff has to have something to do, and that seems to be writing and administering grants. The RPC is seeking a $30,000 grant from one agency and a $20,000 from another, but grants require a local match. And there's the rub.
The RPC is running out of money. It's asking the local governments to kick in their dues early or to guarantee a loan. I'm not sure how a local government goes about guaranteeing a loan, but it sounds a lot like co-signing a note for an impecunious relative – assuming risk without any guarantee of benefit or repayment. Furthermore, the RPC is looking at raising the "dues" it charges local governments (to be paid from the taxes they collect from local taxpayers).
And then there's additional blackmail of the small towns. It appears that some of these towns haven’t signed onto their county plans. These towns will be "sanctioned" somehow by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. I'm wondering what that means – if they don't do what they're told, will they be ineligible for help in a disaster?
It's really too bad that we keep letting government expand. Government agencies want to tell us how to live (the planning statute mentions "morals") and what we can do with our property, and they demand we furnish the money for them to do so.
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