The Leavenworth County Commission Monday agreed to host a meeting of their elected peers from around the Northeast Kansas region in August.
That half-day meeting on Aug. 6, according to Commissioner Dennis Bixby who is working to organize it, will focus on ways that nearby counties could partner to combine or share resources to leverage services. The idea stems from an earlier meeting of county officials in Wichita, which Bixby said he attended.
“Everybody's been talking about this for years, and nobody's actually picked up the ball and ran with it,” he said.
But Commissioner Clyde Graeber said he had concerns with a potential list of topics set to be part of that meeting. Among them, the potential for sharing resources among the counties on different departments like public works and the Council on Aging and its Meals on Wheels program.
“We've got that running locally and running very well, so I would want to look at every one of these and have our local parties that are involved in this in the discussion as to whether they would even be discussions for other counties,” Graeber said.
Commission Chairman Bob Holland said he also wondered how the proposed meeting could fit into the commission's overall schedule.
“One concern I have about doing it is that our time is running down on the commission for getting our work done with the budget hearings,” he said. “If the budget hearings come in place or this or the same day as this, what is our choice?”
Feeling that the schedule might be too tight for the meeting considering that the county's budget must be published by Aug. 15, Holland suggested the commission vote to postpone the regional officials meeting. Bixby said he had brought the matter to the commission at least a month ago and worried that postponing it could effect any momentum the group has going in. He also responded to Graeber's concerns about the content of the work session.
“The purpose of this meeting is brainstorming,” he said.
Bixby said he had prepared a survey with a number of potential topics to be sent out to those officials invited. He said he would take the top three responses to prepare the final agenda for the meeting. Furthermore, he said this meeting would serve only as a starting point for these types of partnerships, with a meeting open to the public and no official action to be taken.
“I'm not talking about using one dime of Jefferson County's money, and they're not talking about using one dime of Leavenworth County's money. The idea is to get ideas on what everybody is doing, what their greatest challenges are, possible solutions, then we can take it back to get the details worked out,” Bixby said. “Right now, this is about sharing ideas.”
Page 2 of 2 - The commission voted to host the meeting scheduled for Aug. 6.