RPC's and RDC's Challenged to Change
The Challenges for Change Bill includes a shift in the way Regional Planning Commissions (RPC’s) and Regional Development Corporations (RDC’s) will operate. Challenges for Change is a broad package of reforms lawmakers developed to find $38M in state spending reductions by restructuring the way government operates. In late March, the Administration proposed the 11 RPC’s be merged with RDC’s and consolidated down to a total of nine entities. The proposal would have been a major change in focus and approach.
After lawmakers heard from RPC and RDC supporters, including Smart Growth Vermont members, they rejected the Administration’s proposal and instead moved to improve the accountability of these organizations. Under the final Bill, RPC’s funding were reduced by 5%, on top of last year’s cut of 13% and RDC’s were also reduced by 5% after a previous 8% cut. RPC’s will be offered performance-based contracts with the Agency of Commerce by February 2011 and in contrast the RDC’s will be required to bid on performance-based request for proposals.
RPC’s and RDC’s will also undertake an evaluation on ways to increase regional coordination to improve service delivery. Synergy between economic development and land use planning has the potential to strengthen smart growth policies moving forward. The Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission was specifically directed to create a plan for merger with the Chittenden County Metropolitan Planning Organization, Vermont’s only federally-created transportation planning entity.