05/18/09 — Bylaws for MPO to target quorum

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Bylaws for MPO to target quorum

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 18, 2009 1:46 PM

An ongoing problem achieving the quorum required to conduct business Thursday prompted members of the Goldsboro Municipal Planning Organization to look for a solution by adopting bylaws.

And until those bylaws can be formulated and adopted, members decided to set aside a new memorandum of understanding between the city, county and Walnut Creek, which comprise the MPO.

It makes sense to continue to operate under the old memorandum of understanding, members said, until the bylaws are adopted. They noted that once the by-laws are adopted, the memorandum of understanding will have to be amended again.

The discussion began during the meeting of the MPO's Technical Coordinating Committee, which acts as administrative staff that makes recommendations to the Technical Advisory Committee -- the voting authority comprised of elected officials for the county, city, and Walnut Creek and Department of Transportation representatives.

As originally proposed, an amendment to the memorandum of understanding would have reduced the number of voting members necessary for a quorum including removing Goldsboro City Manager Joe Huffman and County Manager Lee Smith. They would have remained as non-voting members and would not have counted toward the number needed for the quorum.

Mike Bruff, head of transportation planning for the DOT, said that one way to handle the issue would be that any member who misses two meetings would become inactive and thus not counted toward a quorum.

They would become active again at the next meeting they attended.

"You do need to take a hard look at the membership to see if they need to be there," Bruff said. "If they don't want to be there, then take them off."

"I have talked to Lee (Smith) and we would like to stay on as voting members," Huffman said.

TCC Chairman and county Planning Director Connie Price suggested having the city attorney look at possible by-laws to be considered at the next MPO meeting on August 13.

Price also recommended that the MPO continue to operate under the current memorandum of understanding until then.

The TAC took up the issue when it met following the TCC session. Bruff told TAC members the issue had cropped up several years ago and is more prevalent in Rural Planning Organizations (RPOs), which tend to have a larger membership.

Goldsboro Planning Director and MPO coordinator Randy Guthrie told the TAC members that the TCC recommended "holding up" the memorandum of understanding for 30-45 days to allow time for by-laws to be drafted.

The recommendations were approved.

In response to questions from board members, Guthrie said the proposed by-laws would be available well in advance of the next MPO meeting so that members would have time to study them.

Goldsboro Mayor Pro Tem and MPO Chairman Chuck Allen reminded the board that speakers at a recent public meeting had appeared concerned the county was not equitably represented on the MPO.

He noted that only "real" elected officials, like county commissioners or city council members, could serve on the TAC.

Allen said that adding just one member would create an even-number board creating problems if tiebreakers were needed. Because of that, it would be better to add two members, he said.

Bruff said that the memorandum of understanding defines the membership from the county, city, Walnut Creek and DOT.

In other business, the TAC approved a recommendation by the TCC to amend the 2009-10 planning work program.

The change increased funding for the program by $34,120 for the ongoing feasibility study for Union Station and the five-year operating/administration study for the GATEWAY transportation system.

The funding includes $27,296 in federal funds and $3,412 each in state and local funds.

Also recommended and approved was the Goldsboro-Wayne Transportation Authority's application for federal stimulus funding for the urban side of GATEWAY.

MPO member also questioned Bruff as to how closely the MPO should work with the Rural Planning Organization (RPO).

RPOs were created by the state to assist DOT in rural areas, Bruff said. MPOs are created by the federal government.

Communication is needed between the agencies, but that their decision-making should not be intermingled, he said.

Alex Rickard of the Eastern Carolina RPO told members the RPO would meet Thursday at 9:30 a.m. at the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.

In other business:

-- Guthrie told members a project to computerize and synchronize the city's traffic light system had received federal stimulus funding and soon should be going out for bids. During the Wayne Transportation Committee meeting later in the day, Allen said stimulus funding would free up money for other city road projects including extension of Cashwell Drive.

-- DOT District 4 engineer Ricky Greene said that changes in the Beston Road and U.S. 70 East intersection had resulted in decreases in accidents, injuries and property loss. Greene said he was sorry that not installing a traffic light wanted by area residents had been an inconvenience, but that he was pleased to see that safety had been improved.

-- County Manager Lee Smith and City Manager Joe Hoffman said information about the MPO and from a recent public meeting had been posted on the county and city's websites. Smith suggested placing links to each other's sites and to add a link to the RPO site as well.