Thursday, Oct 23, 2014
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Merger with Citrus eyed

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Published:   |   Updated: March 7, 2013 at 04:18 PM
BROOKSVILLE -

The old adage of "strength in numbers" may come into play Tuesday when state transportation officials will be in town to show Hernando County the potential benefits of merging its metropolitan planning organization with Citrus County.

An MPO serves as a liaison between the community and Florida Department of Transportation and directs how and where available state and federal dollars for transportation improvements will be spent.

The Hernando County MPO consists of six voting members representing Hernando County, the City of Brooksville and one non-voting FDOT member.

MPO Chairman Wayne Dukes said as long as the state can show that Hernando County's merger with Citrus will be beneficial and not cost taxpayers, then he doesn't have a problem.

"If it gives us a better voice, why not?" Dukes said.

Dukes said Hernando County shares many transportation interests with its northern neighbor, including a proposed extension of the Suncoast Parkway into Citrus, providing a key north-south route.

That project has been on and off the radar for years because of disputes with environmentalists and lack of agreement on a proposed route.

Dukes said the FDOT probably believes smaller counties would have more of a legislative voice by banding together and pushing transportation projects.

In November, Citrus County received a letter from FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad regarding the designation of an MPO for the Homosassa Springs-Beverly Hills-Citrus Springs urbanized area based upon the results of the 2010 U.S. Census.

Prasad also said in the letter the new area would best be served by combining with one of the existing adjacent MPOs.

Last month, the Citrus County Transportation Planning Organization requested that the Hernando County MPO formally consider a merger and directed their staffers to begin the process, with the assistance of the FDOT District 7.

If the merger is mutually acceptable, both sides would have to approve the geographical and jurisdictional boundaries of a new MPO. The governor would have to approve such a merger.

The Hernando County Metropolitan Planning Organization will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Hernando County Government Center, 20 North Main St. in downtown Brooksville.

To see the entire agenda, visit http://hernandocountyfl.iqm2.com/citizens/ and click on the Feb. 19 meeting icon.

Also At Tuesday's MPO meeting:

During fiscal year 2012, the system provided more than 72,000 passenger trips, according to a staff report. From July through November 2012, there was a 3 percent increase in ridership from the same period in 2011, the report shows.


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