Last Monday, the Boards of the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho (COMPASS) and Valley Regional Transit (VRT) met together and spent several hours discussing whether the two organizations should merge. On Wednesday, the VRT Board met alone and continued the discussion.
According to the mission statement on the Board’s website, COMPASS “develops transportation plans and priorities and assesses related impacts in order for members to access state and federal transportation funds and respond to regional needs for information and expertise. (Board adopted July 19, 2004)”
The Valley Regional Transit’s (VRT) mission is to “move people throughout the Treasure Valley by coordinating and providing effective, efficient and convenient public transportation services consistent with our resources.”
Note the common theme: transportation. Another common theme is the makeup of the two Boards, which is strikingly similar. To wit, here is the list of people who are on BOTH boards:
Jim Blacker (VRT Alternate)
Dave Jones (VRT Ex. Officio)
Nate Mitchell (VRT Alternate)
Steve Rule (VRT Alternate)
Margie Watson (VRT Alternate)
The list of people who are on the VRT Board but NOT on the COMPASS Board consists of:
Despite the major overlaps in subject matter, as well as Board members, there was some resistance to merging the two organizations expressed. I was truly surprised. I wholeheartedly support a merger, and the possible cost savings and efficiencies that could be realized by taking such action.
One of the major concerns of the opponents of a merger is that VRT’s goals could get overshadowed within a single, consolidated organization. Another concern that was raised was that the savings – $265,620 as proposed by staff members of the two groups – would not be enough to justify the possible headaches involved in consolidating. I think far greater savings could be realized, but a quarter of a million dollars a year isn’t chicken feed, either!
Over the next month or two, the COMPASS and VRT Boards will each be voting on whether to continue to pursue a merger. I welcome public input in that discussion.