The only economies of scale in larger local government benefit lobbyists and special interests, not taxpayers or residents.
The voters are no match for the spending interests with more efficient access to City Hall. The incentives in such larger jurisdictions are skewed against fiscal responsibility and the interests of taxpayers. Making an even larger pool of tax revenues available can only make things worse.One of the 4000 new rules and regulations winding through the last year of the Obama Admin's Federal bureaucracies in 2016 was a rule by the Feds dictating the merging of MPO's to create larger regional MPO"s.
According to the rule published December 20, 2016 to be effective January 19, 2017, MPO Coordination and Planning Reform, Final Rule 40 CFR 613, (Fed Register 12-20-2016):
The purpose of this rule making is to improve the transportation planning process by strengthening the coordination of MPOs and States and promoting the use of regional approaches to planning and decision making.
The FHWA and FTA believe that the benefits of the rule justify the costs. The total costs for merging 142 MPOs, the cost of transportation conformity adjustments, and the one-time cost of developing a dispute resolution process results in an estimated maximum average annual cost of this rule of $86.3 million. The FHWA and FTA were unable to quantify the benefits for this rule making.
Sixteen commenters expressed support for the NPRM. The FHWA and FTA received 156 comments in support of the stated purpose…..While these commenters supported the stated purpose of the rule making, they did not support the specific requirements and procedures articulated in the proposed rule because the commenters believe the rule will not strengthen coordination efforts beyond current practices.
The FHWA and FTA received 299 comments in opposition to the NPRM, of which 249 requested that FHWA and FTA withdraw the rule making. Commenters expressed various concerns about the NPRM.The Feds cannot quantify the benefits of this rule but somehow they "believe the benefits justify the costs". Only in government…can that attitude exist.
Many who commented on the rule raised issues, including that it overstepped the DOT Secretary's authority, it contradicted Congressional intent and it stepped on state laws, those federalism issues.
The Florida Department of Transportation opposed the new rule. They sent their letter dated August 17, 2016 opposing it and asking that the rule making be suspended. The letter clearly summarizes their opposition.
|Summary of FDOT 8/17/2016 letter to Feds opposing mandated MPO mergers|
|FL MPO Advisory Council letter to Feds opposing mandated MPO mergers|
Why did our Hillsborough County Commission support this rule? Why did they vote 7-0 on August 17, 2016 to send a letter to the Feds fully supporting the rule? That was the very same day our FDOT sent a letter to the Feds opposing the rule.
Why would our Republican dominant county commission support an over reaching federal dictate right before a Presidential election?
The letter to support the MPO merger rule was drafted by County Attorney Chip Fletcher and can be found here. The letter not only states the county commissioners fully support the rule but they request a specific change to prevent any "institutional inertia" from delaying implementing the stated objective (regionalism) of the rule.
Commissioner Miller sits on the MPOAC Governing Board, the decision making body for the MPOAC which consists of one representative from each MPO in the State (27), that opposed the rule.
Why the disconnect?
It's all about money.
Below is from the transcript/video found online at HTV (starts at 18:22) of the August 17, 2016 county commission meeting discussing the Feds new dictate
County Attorney Chip Fletcher:
I DON'T THINK THAT THEY'RE PARTICULARLY CONTROVERSIAL OR EVEN NOTEWORTHY IN THE SENSE OF THE SUBSTANCE OF THOSE ISSUES.BUT REALLY MORE ABOUT THE PROCESS FOR HOW THEY WERE TO BE DEVELOPED.Sandy Murman:
THE PINELLAS COUNTY COMMISSIONER AND I HAVE WORKED ON THIS FOR ABOUT TWO OR THREE YEARS. I FEEL THAT THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT STEP FOR US HERE A THE COUNTY TO TAKE TO MOVE FORWARD. I AM NOT IN AGREEMENT WITH THE LETTER THAT WAS SENT FROM THE MPO — STATE MPO TO THE FEDERAL
PEOPLE REGARDING — IT WAS MORE ABOUT, LEAVE US ALONE, WE WANT TO STAY AS WE ARE, THAT WE WILL TRY SOME REGIONAL COORDINATION.
FEDERAL, STATE, LEGISLATIVE LEADERS ARE NOW GOING TO LOOK AT THE REGIONAL COORDINATION WHEN THEY'RE ALLOCATING DOLLARS. ORLANDO HAS BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL. AND THEY HAVE GOTTEN THE LION'S SHARE OF THE MONEY AND THEY HAVE GOTTEN THE LION'S
SHARE OF THE MONEY. IN FACT, DANIEL WEBSTER AND TONY JENNINGS, THEY DIDN'T HAVE A SACK BIG ENOUGH TO TAKE ALL THE MONEY THEY TOOK OVER THERE. SAME THING WITH MIAMI, CUBAN CAUCUS WAS ALWAYS VERY EFFECTIVE IN GETTING WHAT THEY NEEDED WELL, WE NEED TO CHANGE THAT SEAT AND MAKE A STATEMENT THAT WE NEED THOSE DOLLARS COMING HERE.
Merging MPO's is not controversial?
Pinellas County MPO, who rebranded themselves as Forward Pinellas, sent their letter opposing the merger rule on August 23, 2016. Regional special interest organization Tampa Bay Partnership sent an opposition letter on August 26, 2016. Find both of those letters here.
Pasco County MPO also opposed the rule and Hillsborough County MPO seemed squishy and a bit nebulous about the rule.
As we previously posted here scheming is going on behind the scenes to push regionalism in Tampa Bay. Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long admitted she believes regional power is the way to get more state/federal tax dollars.
Some powers to be are using this federal MPO merger mandate as the
The House recently passed HR 21, the Midnight Rules Relief Act, that will eliminate a group of rules pushed through by a lame duck Administration after the election all together instead of one by one. This bill is now in the Senate.
There is a good chance the controversial and over reaching MPO merger rule will soon be eliminated.
So the MPO's will not need yet another consultant they were hiring to facilitate a so-called "collaboration" workshop for how to implement a rule that will be going away.
But the question remains why our local county commissioners are so disconnected and want more Federal dictates.