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CAMPO panel to consider makeup of agency’s new board

Monday, February 8, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

Two recommendations for the composition of the new Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Board will go to the group’s Transportation Policy Board tonight, both intended to take state lawmakers out of the mix and fairly represent the region’s population.

 

The first option, the original recommendation of the Board Composition Committee, would cut the size of the Transportation Policy Board to 18, even as Caldwell and Bastrop counties are added to the region represented by CAMPO.

 

This slimmed-down option, favored by Mayor Lee Leffingwell, would remove the state senator, state representatives and the small city representatives. Representation, intended to represent the geography of the region, would provide spots for elected officials in Bastrop (1), Caldwell (1), Hays (1) and Travis (4) counties, plus spots for cities with a population of more than 50,000: San Marcos, Round Rock, Georgetown and Pflugerville. Another four representatives would be added to represent the core city of Austin.

 

The Texas Department of Transportation and Capital Metro also would appoint representatives to the board. Travis County and Austin would constitute half the board, which is slightly less than the 60 percent of the population in the county.

 

The Board Composition Committee, which met on Friday, hammered out a second compromise to offer to the full board on Monday night. Those on the committee who wanted to see state lawmakers remain on the board lost a vote to include elected officials, even as an option. Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt argued that elected officials who understood the region’s transportation woes would make better advocates before the Legislature.

 

A second option, without elected officials, created a 23-member board, with 11 of those 23 members coming from Travis County. The breakdown of elected officials would be Bastrop (1), Caldwell (1), Hays (1) and Travis (3) counties, plus five representatives from the cities with a population over 50,000 and four representatives from Austin. The chart also has a category of “other elected officials,” with one representative given for each 100,000 in population outside the cities: Hays (1), Travis (3) and Williamson (1).

 

County Judge Sam Biscoe moved that the number of “other” elected officials in Travis County be bumped from two to three in order to provide a fairer apportionment for Travis County. TxDOT and Capital Metro also will appoint members to this board configuration, for a total of 23.

 

The full board will vote on the options on Monday night. Removing elected state official from the committee would mean Sen. Kirk Watson and Reps. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and Diana Maldonado (D-Round Rock) would no longer serve on the board. Small city mayors on the board – Jeff Mills of Sunset Valley, Bob Lemon of Cedar Park and Miguel Gonzalez of Kyle – may or may not remain on the board.

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