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Callaway commissioner's remarks vex CAMPO board

Callaway commissioner's remarks vex CAMPO board

March 17th, 2011 in News

Frustrations surfaced Wednesday afternoon when the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization board met to discuss public criticism of CAMPO by a fellow board member.

The Board of Directors on Wednesday voted to approve three new projects - the construction of an interchange for the new St. Mary's Hospital site, the construction of connector streets for St. Mary's, and the addition of J-turn crossovers on Highway 54.

But after that action, the board turned its attention to a pair of stories that ran in The Fulton Sun and the Jefferson City News Tribune in January.

The articles, which CAMPO ex-officio board member Pamela Murray brought to the board's attention, outlined frustrations Callaway County Western District Commissioner Donald "Doc" Kritzer raised during a County Commission meeting. Kritzer is the Callaway County representative for CAMPO.

The subjects he raised included:

• The percentage of fees Callaway County pays is more than it should be when comparing the size of the county's population in the CAMPO zone.

• The number of projects and amount of planning funds that Jefferson City receives from CAMPO, which Kritzer has described as "illegal."

• A lack of representation for Holts Summit, which has a representative on the technical committee, but is no longer the small cities representative on the board.

• The interest shown by St. Martins in the last year to be the small cities representative. Kritzer contended that representatives from St. Martins were encouraged to show interest in the position in order to get Holts Summit off the board.

During the meeting, several members of the board addressed Kritzer's comments. Janice McMillan, deputy director of planning and transportation services for Jefferson City and CAMPO board member, went through the comments, addressing them individually.

On the topic of the fees, McMillan said the 15 percent of the local match that Callaway County pays is based on the population of both urban and unincorporated areas of Callaway County. McMillan added that this is the amount Callaway County agreed to years ago.

"The commission did endorse the participation plan when the memorandum of understanding was signed," McMillan said.

As for Kritzer's claim that Jefferson City dominates the use of the Surface Transportation Funds (STP), McMillan said Jefferson City had received those funds before CAMPO was created and, when MoDOT continued to allocate them to the city, they continued to use them in the same manner. That did not change until issues were raised about it a few years ago.

McMillan added that every project that received the STP funds was approved by the board of directors since CAMPO was created in 2003.

Concerning Holts Summits' representation on the board, McMillan pointed out that the board did consider the creation of an individual seat for the town, but it was voted down.

She also reminded the board that the small cities representative position was designed as a rotating seat, which would give St. Martins the right to occupy the position just as much as Holts Summit. She added that she and other staff members saw a gradual increase in interest by St. Martins, which Carlene Bax of the St. Martins Planning and Zoning Commission confirmed.

"Our interest in having the position has evolved, probably more so since last fall, when the bylaws came before us for a vote," Bax said. "We didn't get the vote in because of lack of interest, but because of lack of information.

"It took some time to get up to speed, and as we got up to speed with information on CAMPO, we became more interested. That's how that all evolved."

Bax added that she would be happy to meet with representatives from Holts Summit in an effort to better understand the needs and desires of the town and present those to the board.

CAMPO Board Chairman and 5th Ward Councilman Dave Griffith discouraged board members from bringing personal qualms about the board straight to the press.

Kritzer said at the end of the meeting that, despite the explanations from McMillan, he still stood behind what he was quoted as saying in the previous articles. He added that the issues he raised are not new and have been raised before by himself and other board members.

CAMPO is one of a number of Metropolitan Planning Organizations throughout the state. Under U.S. law, all areas deemed an "urbanized area" with a population of 50,000 or more by the U.S. Census are required to have an MPO.