KMPO zeroes in on independence

Transportation board may hire director Thursday

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POST FALLS - Kootenai County's transportation planning board took another step toward independence on Tuesday.

However, the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization didn't go into an executive session as planned to hire an executive director, most likely Glenn Miles, who is no longer employed at the Spokane Regional Transportation Council.

SRTC has handled administrative oversight duties for KMPO since it formed seven years ago.

A special KMPO board meeting and executive session is slated after its regular meeting on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Post Falls City Hall to consider severing ties with SRTC and hiring an executive director.

Miles' contract with SRTC ended last week. SRTC decided it wanted to take its agency in a different direction. Miles told KMPO Chairman Jimmie Dorsey that he was invited to apply for the job, but Miles declined. Miles had been with the agency for 22 years.

The opening for SRTC's position closed on Monday and that board expects it will take at least three months to hire someone. Mark Rohwer, who was with the Washington State Department of Transportation for 22 years, started as SRTC's interim director on Monday.

KMPO must give SRTC a 90-day notice if it decides to sever ties as expected. KMPO's three-year contract with SRTC expires September 2012.

While Miles said that he has not been offered a contract with KMPO, some board members support tapping him with his prior experience and knowledge of KMPO.

"It's a logical choice," said Lynn Humphreys, KMPO board member and Post Falls Highway District board member.

At Tuesday's workshop, KMPO considered a draft budget presented by Miles at the request of Dorsey of what it would look like if KMPO is on its own. A proposed staff contract was also debated.

KMPO's current budget is $324,890.

But if the Census recognizes Kootenai County as a stand-alone statistical area, it will get more federal money for transportation planning. However, the match money required to receive those funds will be higher and the jurisdictions that pay into KMPO, including area cities, the county, state, highway districts and the Coeur d'Alene Tribe, say funding is already tight.

The draft budget of KMPO on its own presented by Miles would include $432,000 in revenues and $373,000 in expenditures.

Total personnel costs, including benefits, for three full-time positions - an executive director, planner and administrative assistant, would be $267,000. Maintenance and operations would run $105,650.

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