Commissioners Move Interlocal Agreement Forward

In a crowded meeting last night, the Board of County Commissioners reviewed and discussed the proposed interlocal implementation agreement for the recently adopted transit plan. The discussion centered around a few questions: who would be party to the agreement, who would have control over how much of the revenues brought in from the transit tax. I've excerpted the part of the more than 400-page agenda packet that concerns the agreement here for you to see the draft of the agreement itself.

The main point of contention in the entire debate was whether or not the Durham-Chapel Hill-Carrboro MPO should be included as a party the agreement. The argument essentially boiled down to a referendum on the plan, which the Board already adopted in June. Commissioners Barry Jacobs, Pam Hemminger and Bernadette Pelissier argued that the plan was drawn up by three partners, and therefore its implementation should be handled by three partners. Allowing the County and Triangle Transit to be the only voices in the implementation would allow them to alter the plan that has already been decided upon, they said. Commissioner Earl McKee, on the opposite side of the argument didn't disagree. He thought that giving the county a greater voice and the MPO (and by extension the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro less of the voice) was a good thing because the plan needs to be changed, in his view.

Ultimately the Commission voted 5-1 to direct the staff to include DCHCMPO as a signatory in the agreement. John Roberts, the county attorney, noted that since the question of the parties to the agreement was the only major sticking point, the agreement was likely to be adopted soon.

A second major stream of conservation was around how funding from tax revenues would be allocated between maintaining or expanding existing service and creating new service. Chapel Hill Town Council Member Jim Ward and Chapel Hill Transit Director Steve Spade were both on hand to say that Chapel Hill Transit Committee (the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro plus UNC) could not support the current interlocal agreement because it doesn't offer them enough flexibility in spending. 

Though the conversation got quite detailed and technical and went on for some time, Commissioner Pelissier made the interesting comment that she was concerned that UNC wasn't putting enough into the system which it will greatly benefit from. 

Other topics at the meeting included the siting criteria for the new Southern Branch Library, several rezoning applications and the adjustment of MPO boundaries to be inline with the 2010 Census. For more detailed descriptions of theses conversations, see my live tweets on Storify, but I did want to highlight two. 

First, Commission Hemminger called on the Board to write a letter of support urging Chancellor Holden Thorp to stay in his post. No action on this item was taken. It was referred to the agenda review process, which presumably means it will come up at one of the next few regular meetings.

Second, a member of public got up at the beginning of the meeting and accused the commissioners of committing high treason and acting in league with a Communist environmental organization on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail project. Toward the end of the meeting, county Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks and Recreation Director David Stancil rebutted the resident's claims by pointing out that none of the trail had yet been laid, and by noting that the trail's route for the most park is simply the quickest way to get between state parks.

See Twitter coverage of the meeting below.



Thanks so much for not only Tweeting the meeting so effectively, Jeff, but for the summary which really helps to explain what all this administrative wrangling really means for the future of regional transit.

Chapelboro's Elizabeth Friend did a great job summarizing last night's transit discussion. Core issues about roles, funding and the role of UNC are still being hammered out with the vote less than a month away. Hauser

There's more discussion of the role of commissioners, TTA and the MPO at: 


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