Merger of Nashville Metro Planning Organization and Greater Nashville Regional Council Won’t Address Government Waste, Critics Say

The Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and the Greater Nashville Regional Council (GNRC) are moving forward with plans to merge, a plan critics say will do little to address government inefficiency.

Last month, a joint committee of the two agencies unanimously endorsed the plan to pursue full integration of the MPO and GNRC staff and board leadership. A formal document to integrate will be adopted in April, according to the minutes of the Feb. 15 executive board meeting of the MPO.

The Nashville Area MPO handles strategic planning for the transportation needs of seven Middle Tennessee counties by providing a forum for local communities and state leaders to collaborate. MPOs can be found across the country in urbanized areas of more than 50,000 people. Established through federal legislation, they plan and prioritize projects for federal funds. The website for the Nashville MPO says it “contributes to ongoing conversations about issues such as land use, economic development, climate change and the environment, safety and security, and public health.”

The GNRC is a regional planning and economic development agency serving 13 counties and 52 cities in Middle Tennessee.

Officials involved in the planned merger say it will help with cost savings and greater efficiency. However, sources knowledgeable about the agencies told The Tennessee Star that the plan doesn’t go far enough in addressing those goals. The GNRC should be significantly scaled back or disbanded entirely, with some of its functions being folded into other government agencies, the sources said.

The sources also told The Star that the agencies need greater transparency and accountability to the public.

Several recent tweets from the official Nashville Area MPO Twitter account indicate that officials there are following developments surrounding Gov. Haslam’s proposed gas tax increase included in the IMPROVE Act with great interest.

One tweet referenced the local option to tax and obtain more transporation revenue:

On Tuesday, another tweet noted the unanimous passage of the amended version of the IMPROVE Act that reduces the gas tax increase from 7 cents per gallon to 6 cents per gallon through the State Senate Local Government Committee:

Also on Tuesday, another tweet noted that Memphis was getting an All-Ages Biking Network:




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