Local governments seem to be cooperating more on common goals. At least, that’s been Forbes McIntosh’s impression as the contract lobbyist with the Dane County Cities and Villages Association.
McIntosh spoke to the Waunakee Village Board at their Aug. 5 meeting, describing some of the association’s work. The mission statement notes that it is a partnership “to promote improvement of the Dane County region by serving as an advocate for common goals.” Its mission is to maintain and exchange information, discuss problems and solutions, monitor and inform members of legislation in the state and county government and attempt to influence those units in order to respond to the needs of cities and villages.
McIntosh has been the lobbyist with DCCVA for 15 years and said, initially, problems often arose.
“When I first started… pretty much every meeting was about battles … with the towns, county board, with the state. But I will say, over the years, that’s changed,” McIntosh said.
Now the municipalities have been working together when policy issues, along with land-use and transportation issues, arise. Points of contention are usually dealt with up front, he added.
In the past, governmental units would “roll out policy initiatives and see who they could roll over to get it done,” McIntosh said, adding that now, a more cooperative approach is used.
At the DCCVA meetings, much of the focus is on education with speakers on sustainability, transportation and coordinating stormwater runoff efforts, along with housing.
McIntosh noted that the DCCVA has appointments on the Capital Area Regional Planning Commission, Dane County Lakes and Watershed and other agencies that play a role in planning for the area. Often, he said, disagreements occur over how an area should be growing.
While local governments are cooperating, when it comes to regional planning, they’re “kind of failing at the moment,” McIntosh said, as many seem to be trying to control growth.
Some of the issues at hand now are stormwater runoff in the Yahara lakes, transportation infrastructure and cost sharing. Municipalities like Madison are looking at achieving true regional transit for the area.
Conflicts can continue to arise over cost-sharing, particularly when different units of government are trying to figure out how to pay for a project, McIntosh said.
McIntosh encouraged village board members to contact him if they find themselves facing an issue with a state agency or county board.
“If you’re having a problem or running into a barrier, give me a call. I might be able to help you,” he told the village trustees.