- Associated Press - Monday, May 11, 2015

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Efforts by the four largest government units in the Kansas City metropolitan area to work together have improved relationships across the Kansas-Missouri border after years of mostly contentious dealings, group members say.

Leaders from the two Kansas Citys; Jackson County, Missouri; and Johnson County, Kansas, meet regularly and dozens of their top managers are encouraged to work together to solve problems that stretch across the state line. Although successes have been mostly minor since the effort began, the framework is in place for bigger successes in the future, group members told The Kansas City Star (https://bit.ly/1E219Yb ).

The four government units still work independently and with the long-established top policy agency known as the Mid-America Regional Council, or MARC, which remains the central channel for dispensing federal funds and hosting discussions of issues affecting the metro area. But Core4’s members have more influence in the region than the other 100-plus communities involved in MARC.

“We know there are issues that spill over state boundaries,” Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Sly James said. “Core4 helps bring all the elected officials and administrators together to find solutions to those issues.”

The group discusses mundane but important such as issues as sewers, regional transit, the Kansas City International Airport, attracting youth sports tournaments on both sides of the state line and even the monthly tornado siren tests.



“It’s really an acknowledgment by all of us that, at the end of the day, we’re in this thing together,” Kansas City, Kansas Mayor Mark Holland said.

Regional cooperation has always received lip service in the area but this effort is different because it has set up a framework that includes regular meetings, committees and goals. Getting paid staff involved rather than just have elected officials meet also is different, members said.

“I think the Core4 validates and gives permission for staff to work on these issues together,” Holland said.

It was through the Core4 that local governments each chose to provide $65,000 for Kansas City’s ultimately unsuccessful bid to attract the 2016 Republican National Convention. They also have agreed that they won’t issue certain government contracts if a vendor is delinquent on taxes in any of the four jurisdictions.

More than 100 officials from the Core4 communities will gather in July for a progress report and to talk about the future. And a joint career fair is planned to attract new talent to local governments. While acknowledging mostly small success so far, even that sort of cooperation was rare in the past, said David Warm, who became head of MARC 25 years ago.

“The conversation has turned on its head since then,” said Warm, who hosts the off-the-record meetings between the four government leaders. “Overall we have matured considerably over the past 25 years in regional affairs.”

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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