POST FALLS - The area's transportation planning board has cut ties with a similar Spokane group and hired that council's former executive director.
The Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization on Tuesday - on a 9-2 vote - agreed to end its contract with the Spokane Regional Transportation Council for administrative services. KMPO has used SRTC since the local board formed seven years ago.
KMPO also voted 8-3 to hire Glenn Miles as its executive director and have him start on May 15. Miles, who led SRTC for 22 years before his contract ended April 30, will make $95,000 per year at KMPO.
Miles, who didn't attend Tuesday's meeting, could not be reached for comment.
KMPO board members represent area cities, the county, state, Coeur d'Alene Tribe and highway districts.
KMPO Chairman Jimmie Dorsey supports the group standing on its own and bringing on Miles.
"The progress that KMPO has made in seven years is the direct result of its relationship with Glenn Miles," said Dorsey, adding that Miles is respected at the state and federal levels. "I believe he'll do an excellent job within budget and continue to lead us in the right direction."
Dorsey said he had reservations about continuing with SRTC, but didn't elaborate. He also believes it's time for KMPO to be on its own and said he was concerned that Miles may accept another offer if KMPO didn't bring him on this month.
Rathdrum Mayor Vic Holmes and Coeur d'Alene's Al Hassell voted against both resolutions. Kootenai County Commissioner Todd Tondee also voted against the resolution to tap Miles effective May 15.
Holmes said he was uncomfortable in supporting the resolutions when there are a lot of unanswered questions.
"Nobody has discussed whether this will save money for the taxpayer," he said.
Taking on employees was another concern.
"We're running cities and have full-time jobs, and I don't know if I'm comfortable having to worry about personnel," Holmes said.
Board member Lynn Humphreys, representing Post Falls Highway District, said there's no friction between KMPO and SRTC, but he believes it's time for KMPO to have its own identity.
Mark Rohwer, who was with the Washington State Department of Transportation for 22 years, started as SRTC's interim director last week.
KMPO's three-year contract with SRTC was set to expire September 2012, but the board can sever the contract with a 90-day notice. However, KMPO members said the organization won't have to pay Miles and SRTC at the same time within those 90 days if SRTC is no longer providing services.
A draft KMPO budget Miles recently presented to the board called for hiring two additional full-time staff members, including a planner and administrative assistant. Total personnel costs, including benefits, would be $267,000. Maintenance and operations would run $105,650.