To better reflect who can serve on its committees, the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Planning Organization has revised its bylaws. The revision came Wednesday amid questions related to contracted engineers, who may represent the smaller cities across Grayson County, in deciding the direction of future roadway projects.
SDMPO Executive Director Clay Barnett said the revisions were first prompted by the Federal Highway Administration, which will be auditing the MPO later this fall. Early assessments noted that there were places in the bylaws that needed to be updated related to the Technical Advisory Committee.
“There were a few points that were not clear with the TAC; who can be a member of it,” Barnett said.
The MPO is made up of two separate boards. While the policy board, which votes and finalizes action is made up of regional officials, the TAC generally gives technical advise and insight. The committee is made up of representatives from the member cities, who typically are either city managers or engineers.
In the case of the smaller cities, many of the engineer representatives are contracted rather than hired directly as a city employee.
“One issue that came up is if two cities contract or are represented by the same engineer,” Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said.
The proposed amendment would clarify that the engineer could only represent one city. The amendment also limited members of the committee to residents of Grayson County. This provision was added out of concern that a contracted representative could be employed by multiple jurisdictions or other MPOs, including the North Texas Tollway Authority.
The NTTA oversees bridges, toll roads and other roadway infrastructure across the majority of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex
“Guess who they are going to serve,” Magers said. “They aren’t going to serve two masters; they are going to serve the NTTA.”
Despite agreeing with the sentiment, members of the board and attending city representatives voiced some concerns regarding the second provision. Officials said it wasn’t uncommon for cities, especially smaller communities, to be represented by contract engineers, including those outside Grayson County.
“Is the issue being in another MPO, because how many engineering firms are there in Grayson County,” Magers said.
Sherman Director of Engineering Clint Philpott argued that the smaller members can still use the outside resources but their professional representative should still be locally-based.
“The small cities can’t do that,” Magers said. “They do not have the manpower.”
Denison City Manager Jud Rex said the criteria could limit the options for cities as the seek out engineering services.
“I would say expand it a bit because there are limited engineering firms in Grayson County,” he said. “If we want to contract with somebody in Denison or Collin County, then I think that is appropriate.”
The board agreed to loosen the restrictions, but representatives must live or work in Grayson or one of its neighboring counties. The representative must also not work with or represent another MPO.
The amended resolution was then passed with unanimous support from the board.