The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
We have another example of "government gone wild." The Pioneer Trails Regional Planning Commission continues to have financial difficulty. A "peer review" by directors of other RPCs told them to cut expenses by $45,000 and to reconsider the "dues" rate they charge local governments. They're in trouble because the agency has expanded to exceed the original expectations.
This RPC was formed in 2002 to avoid highway blackmail - if we didn't have an RPC, the area wouldn't get any highway projects. However, the statute for RPCs says that they are responsible for making a comprehensive plan for the region, so they set merrily out to create one. From an original staff of a director and clerical help, they added two planners and a fiscal officer. From an original 2002 budget figure cited as $65,000, the money drain has grown rather remarkably.
It seems to me that the whole process of developing a "comprehensive plan" for the region is an exercise in both arrogance and futility. The four counties involved (Johnson, Lafayette, Pettis & Saline) are in very different development stages and market positions. Some have a strong central city; others are multi-polar whose cities have distinctly different interests. Each has its own industrial and commercial development authorities, which are in competition with those of other cities and counties within the region. We have competing transportation needs; a 4-lane highway 13 corridor would certainly hurt Sedalia's business.
The more power we give government to affect business and commercial development, the more we encourage poor economic decision making. Whether it's a promise of a tax subsidy for a development or a bail-out for a poorly planned development, we favor one business over another and cause the consumer and taxpayer to pay mo"e in the end. When we come up with a "comprehensive plan” we restrict the use of private property just as surely as we do when we seize it and give it to someone else.
Government's role shouldn't be to tell people how to live, work or spend money. And it shouldn’t take money from the people and spend it on a bloated organization whose charter is to plan how those people live, work, and spend money.
By the way, the RPC's director doesn't seem to think cutbacks are in order; he just wants to get more money from the hard-pressed taxpayers.
See also Gadfly 292 .
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