One year ago, Chuck Marohn gave a Curbside Chat in Hays, KS, which kickstarted an ongoing conversation in Hays. We are seeing real impacts as a result of the Strong Towns message, and the enthusiasm and willingness of the people in Hays to look critically at their growth and revenue issues.
Hays' relative isolation has forced it to be more self-sufficient and, in many ways, more self-reliant than the typical American city. The town has some great leadership and they're in the midst of a brave conversation. We see Hays as a model for beginning to implement Strong Towns ideas on the ground.
A Stronger Hays
In light of this, they've created a document called "A Stronger Hays" which clearly lays out the problems Hays faces from a Strong Towns angle, as well as some potential solutions.
Toby Dougherty, City Manager of Hays, explains the story behind the document:
Early last year my staff and I conducted a comprehensive fiscal analysis of the city using Strong Towns tactics and attitudes. The result was a bit of a paradigm shift as we were tasked with pointing out that, what most people saw as an asset--new growth--could be viewed as a liability. It was quite a wakeup call and not received well by everyone. The exercise also resulted in a much better understanding of our finances, what drives revenues and what drives costs. After the initial rollout to the City Commission, they asked that I do everything possible to inform the public. The intent of the document was to have something to handout when I spoke to the Rotary, Kiwanis, Optimists, Chamber lunch…
This impressive yet simple document is what emerged from that. We encourage you to take the ideas in here and make use of them or recreate them in your own town.
Sample Graphics from "A Stronger Hays"
Thank you to HayS, KS for working to spread the Strong Towns message and become a Stronger Town.
Curious to hear more from Hays? Listen to our 2015 interview with Hays City Manager, Toby Dougherty to hear him talk about the Strong Towns message and progress in his town. This article from 2015 also covers the Strong Towns process in Hays.