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News / Clark County News

Madore suggests cutting RTC dues

Transportation agency 'dismisses' county leadership, he says

By Eric Florip, Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter
Published: December 11, 2014, 12:00am

Clark County Commissioner David Madore on Wednesday suggested cutting off county funding to the Southwest Washington Regional Transportation Council, citing a “continuous track record of the RTC dismissing the leadership of the county.”

In an email to RTC Executive Director Matt Ransom, Madore said he supports a policy to “significantly reduce” the dues that the county pays to the regional planning agency in the coming year.

A total of 21 jurisdictions pay membership dues to RTC each year. Clark County pays the largest amount of any agency, slated to be $36,300 in 2015. That’s about 2 percent of RTC’s overall budget of $1.7 million next year.

It’s unclear what impact cutting those dues would have on the county’s standing as an RTC member. Ransom could not be reached for comment.

Madore didn’t cite specifics in his notification to Ransom, and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. But during last week’s RTC board meeting, Clark County was passed over for both the chair and vice chair positions on the board.

The board selected Camas City Councilor Melissa Smith as chair in 2015, after she had served as vice chair this year. But rather than pick a new vice chair — as it has typically done in the past — the board chose current chair Jack Burkman, a Vancouver City Councilor, to become vice chairman and swap places with Smith. It will be the fourth time in five years that Burkman has been chair or vice chair of RTC.

Clark County Commissioner Jeanne Stewart had been nominated for both posts, but not chosen. During the Dec. 2 meeting, she indicated that Clark County should be given a leadership role.

“I think it is the county’s turn to rotate in, to be in the queue,” Stewart said.

Burkman noted Wednesday that there hasn’t been a definite pattern for RTC board leadership during the agency’s 22-year history. The decision is up to the board, he said, not any one person.

County commissioners have held leadership posts on the RTC board in the past. Most recently, former Commissioner Marc Boldt was vice chair in 2011 and chair in 2012.

Burkman said he wasn’t surprised by Madore’s position. At RTC board meetings during the past couple of years, “the commissioners have been less than cooperative,” he said. The county’s relationship with some other agencies has become strained, he added.

Reducing the amount it pays to RTC wouldn’t be the first time the county has withdrawn financial support to another organization. In 2013, the county halted funding to the Columbia River Economic Development Council and several local chambers of commerce.

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Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter