BROOKSVILLE - The two transportation groups didn't know each other and were not certain where their workshop would take them. But, ultimately, they found harmony.
The Citrus County Transportation Planning Organization and the Hernando County Metropolitan Planning Organization last week agreed on the final issue preventing the two boards from merging: the number of seats on the new board.
In the end, they agreed on nine.
"We had some very strong discussion at our last board meeting about these numbers," said Hernando County Commissioner Wayne Dukes, MPO chairman.
The MPO wanted seven seats on the merged board: four for Hernando and three for Citrus. But Citrus pushed for 11 seats: six for Hernando and five for Citrus. With the seven seats, Citrus would have seats for two county commissioners and only one city representative. The city representative would rotate every two years between Inverness, which would get the first turn, and Crystal River.
"This is something that we want to last forever," Dukes said. "It should grow in strength."
Brooksville Mayor Lara Bradburn said she made the suggestion for nine seats "several months back," and she appreciated the commissioners' endorsement.
"We have several key projects that we want to move forward on," Bradburn said. "We want to move forward on the (Suncoast) Parkway together. We want to move forward with TBARTA plans, rail or rapid transit or multi-modal. We want to move forward on the trails as well in a regional fashion. We can do that with harmony."
Citrus Commissioner Scott Adams said the relationship was in the best interest for both counties and all of the cities. With nine seats, the next matter was moving forward, Adams said.
Hernando Commissioner Diane Rowden said the two counties have a lot of similarities as part of the Nature Coast and have a lot to offer that some other counties in the Tampa Bay area do not, making it advantageous to work together.
Staffs from both counties already largely have agreed to the details regarding meetings, staffing, administrative support and budgets. They now will work out the details of the proposed membership of nine, expected to be five Hernando members - four county commissioners and a representative of Brooksville; and four Citrus members - two county commissioners and a representative from each city, Crystal River and Inverness.