There is a fight brewing, one between county and city governments. It is going to come a head soon ― between now and the 2015 budget season.
That fight is one that has familiar phrases ― double dipping, unfunded mandate.
When asked at a recent meeting including governmental officials from each city in Harvey County, Harvey County and the state, to identify one major issue for city or county governments, one table stated the relationship between the county and the cities.
Here's the issue: 800 band communications. Moving to 800 band for Fire, EMS, law enforcement and all services communicating with 911 carries a price tag ― and it is a big one. The county has said, over and over, that they will fund the infrastructure and the cities will need to buy new radios.
That idea is not sitting well with some city officials. They claim that means city tax payers will get hit twice for the same project ― as those city residents pay county taxes in addition to city taxes. In their eyes, city residents will pay a healthy portion of that county infrastructure. Those same tax payers will pay for radios ― radios that will not only be used to dispatch a fire department to a downtown fire, but one in the rural area as well.
That's where things get chippy. Those rural areas will benefit from the purchase of those radios ― but not be paying to help buy them.
We talked informally with city officials from three different municipalities in Harvey County about this ― and they all said the same things. They all used the phrase “unfunded mandate.”
The question is who is paying for what, and what really is fair.
There's also that bigger issue identified at that round table ― the working relationship between city and county government. The truth is they need each other and need to work together for the betterment of every resident within their borders. The Council of Governments is a great thing for the county to have. It helps all the cities and the county work together. We hope that group can help get everyone on the same page with the radio project without straining those important relationships.
― Kansan Editorial Board