Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Your voice on the COMPASS Board

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you are already somewhat familiar with COMPASS…the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho. But, did you know you are represented on the COMPASS Board?

Are you scratching your head? Don’t remember voting for COMPASS Board members at the ballot box?

You did vote for them, just not in the way you think.

You – every resident of Ada and Canyon Counties – is represented on the COMPASS Board by at least three elected officials – in most cases, it is more.

COMPASS is a member-based organization. COMPASS members are government agencies in Ada and Canyon Counties, such as cities, the counties themselves, and highway districts. Each member agency has one or more seats on the Board – whenever possible, these seats are occupied by the elected officials, such as mayors, councilmembers, and commissioners. The COMPASS Board of Directors is the COMPASS governing body – the Board makes the decisions that direct what COMPASS does. The COMPASS Board is COMPASS.

You are represented on the COMPASS Board by every member agency jurisdiction you live in. For example, if you live in Middleton, you are represented on the COMPASS Board by the City of Middleton (1 seat), Canyon Highway District (1 seat), and Canyon County (3 seats). On the COMPASS website, you can look to see who our member agencies and Board members are.

So, why does this matter?

First, let’s back up to what COMPASS does. In a nutshell, COMPASS is a regional planning organization. It plans for the future of the Treasure Valley. More specifically, the agency develops the long-range transportation plan for the two-county area and allocates federal transportation funding.

When your local elected officials are making decisions in their role as COMPASS Board members, they are making those decisions with you – their constituents – in mind.

However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. On one hand, they are looking at decisions in light of how it impacts the jurisdiction they represent – your city, county, or highway district. They are considering what is best for “City X” or “County Y.” On the other hand, they are also charged with looking at decisions in light of how those decisions impact the region as a whole. After all, COMPASS is a regional entity – its goal is to plan for the future of the regional as a whole…not just one jurisdiction. As is often said, “a rising tide floats all boats.” By planning regionally, we all benefit.

So, when you think or hear about COMPASS actions, keep in mind that “COMPASS” is not a nebulous faceless entity, nor is it the staff who work here. “COMPASS” is our Board of Directors. Those Board members represent you.

Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho

COMPASS is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization responsible for transportation planning in Ada and Canyon Counties. The COMPASS Board comprises 39 members representing the cities, counties, highway districts, educational institutions, state agencies, and other entities within the two counties. COMPASS plays an important role in making decisions about future long-range transportation needs in the Treasure Valley, taking into consideration environmental and economic factors that affect the quality of life.