Hillsborough County taps Les Miller to replace Anne Madden on HART board

Is this how the reconfiguration of the HART board begins?

The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART) announced today that County Commissioner Les Miller will replace Anne Madden on their board, after Madden announced her departure from the board earlier this month. The significance of this is that Madden was a representative from the community selected by the County Commission. Miller's entrance now brings to four the number of commissioners on the HART board.

Earlier this week Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill announced a comprehensive transportation plan after more than 14 months of meetings with the Transportation Economic Development (TED) policy leadership group. Funding for the proposals would need to come from a one-cent sales tax that would go on the 2016 ballot.

But there is still an issue of governance, since TED leaders have said for months that there should be one super type of transportation agency to lead the way for the referendum, and in late May Merrill announced at a TED meeting that that group should be HART, but the members of TED should run it. TED consists of the seven Hillsborough County Commissioners, as well as the Mayors of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City.

That proposal has been met with unease in certain quarters, most predominantly with some major members of the HART board, such as chairman Mike Suarez. He's contended that the TED group has no legal standing to make such a request. The HART board will vote on the matter next week.

When asked about that uncertainty earlier this week, Merrill said that the provisions of the HART/County charter allow for elected officials to replace current board members once their terms expire on the agency. Before Madden announced she was leaving, she expressed displeasure with TED taking over HART, saying that losing members from the community like herself would diminish the diversity of the board. 

Even if the HART board opts not to accept the proposal for their composition to be changed via the TED takeover, the city and County can slowly get their way by making those changes once each and every HART board members term expires, as Merrill indicated. With Madden voluntarily leaving, a community member has now been replaced by an elected official.

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