Last month I had an opportunity to do a Curbside Chat in Hays, Kansas, a city that -- as described by Josh McCarty with Urban 3 -- is a little like Australia in its remoteness. That comparison to the land down under was made because, like Australia, the remoteness of Hays has caused the evolutionary grind to produce some unique outcomes. In this case, a very mature conversation regarding their rather tenuous financial situation.
What is going on there reminds me of Memphis, a place that circumstance has forced to ask some difficult, but important, questions. Hays has a dramatically different set of challenges than Memphis; specifically: their relative isolation has forced them to be more self-sufficient and, in many ways, more self-reliant than the typical American city. They have some great leadership and are in the midst of a brave conversation.
I plan to write about Hays more in the future -- specifically some insights about the challenges of a sales tax heavy revenue system -- but for now, I want you to see what a mature, Strong Towns conversation looks like when local leaders start asking the right set of questions.
Here are some slides the staff prepared to brief elected officials and the public. As you look at them, ask yourself: Has my city considered these things?
Hays is asking the right questions. They are a model for the rest of us to learn from.