Flint Hills Regional Council expresses interest in Emporia, Lyon County, Chase County

It's not exactly a case of "everyone's doing it," but enough cities and counties in Kansas are joining regional economic development councils to make Emporia and Lyon County leaders consider such a move themselves.

City and county commissioners have separately held preliminary discussions on whether to join the Flint Hills Economic Development District, and Wednesday they listened to council director William Clark praise the move toward regional cooperation at a joint meeting at the Lyon County Courthouse.

The council currently has 20 members, including four counties -- Morris among them -- and 16 municipalities. Clark says Emporia, Lyon County and Chase County are natural additions because of their location, and the regional council voted last month to pursue partnershps with the local governments if desired.

Clark says the goal is to bring cities, counties and outside agencies together to help set policy.

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Emporia Sen. Jeff Longbine tells KVOE News Coffey County has joined a council involving southeast Kansas, while Shawnee and Douglas counties are starting to combine resources -- as are Sedgwick and Harvey counties.

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County commissioners tabled further action during a study meeting discussion last week. Commissioner Scott Briggs says he was pleased with the presentation Wednesday, and  City Commissioner Danny Giefer says it's an idea worth considering.

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One of the key concerns would be cost, which Clark says is 50 cents per capita. Another would be voting authority, especially with Manhattan and Ft. Riley already "at the table," but Clark says each governmental body on the board has an equal vote. Clark says the regional board is not designed to overtake the local decision-making authority but is supposed to create lists of items for local discussion and subsequent action.

In other business, commissioners were updated on efforts to consolidate dispatch operations. Sheriff Jeff Cope says a grant has now been obtained to explorethe costs of regionalizing emergency dispatch equipment for Lyon and most surrounding counties. Also, commissioners received a final report on the recently-completed Clean Sweep.

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