Officials seek to avoid deficit for planning commission

Greene County group struggles to fund its mission.

RPCC, which helps developers and government officials navigate the land development process in unincorporated areas in the county, is scheduled to adopt and ratify its 2015 budget on Dec. 16, however the agency could face a funding shortage before the end of the year.

The planning commission, which is operating with a $190,326 budget this year, is primarily funded through membership fees from cities, villages and townships.

“I would like to see us come to an agreement where regional planning still functions as a service for the community,” said Kent Campbell, president of the RPCC executive committee. “It’s a needed service and I think everybody realizes that. It’s just a matter of coming up with a way to fund it and keep it in operation.”

The meeting to discuss the funding with county commissioners has not been scheduled, however the RPCC executive committee will discuss the agency’s fees at its next meeting on Tuesday.

“Nobody debates the fact that regional planning provides services that are well needed throughout the county,” said Greene County Commissioner Bob Glaser during a work session this month. “The point is with service, there is a cost … then the question becomes is everybody willing to pay the price to have those services.”

Several zoning officials, administrators and council members from villages and townships in the county who attended the Aug. 7 work session told commissioners the agency is a valuable resource they rely on for development services.

Yellow Springs Village Council President Karen Wintrow told commissioners she would like for efforts to be made to get Beavercreek and Fairborn to reinstate their paid memberships.

“My interest in this is about regional planning being more regional and …. somebody keeping an eye on the whole county,” she said.

Fairborn withdrew its membership in 2010. The city, the third largest in the county, no longer pays membership fees, but has continued involvement as a non-voting member of the planning commission. The following year, Beavercreek, the county’s largest city, withdrew its membership. Both city managers said the need to reduce expenses caused them to rescind their memberships.

More recently, the City of Xenia has indicated it is considering withdrawing its planning commission membership.

“While the Commission does offer a quality service, it is most effectively used by smaller jurisdictions who do not have planning departments as we do,” said Xenia City Manager Brent Merriman in a written response. “Members of the Xenia City Council have asked us to consider the relative value of our membership and whether this expense makes sense into the future.”

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