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County panel OKs membership in planning organization

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Jefferson County legislators took their first tentative steps Tuesday night toward joining the Watertown-Jefferson County Area Transportation Council, a little-understood entity sprung from the blob-like urbanized area created by the 2010 census.

The council is a Metropolitan Planning Organization, whose job it is to coordinate federally funded highway, bridge and transit initiatives in the urbanized area. It will be made up of seven members: two from the state Department of Transportation, two from the city of Watertown, two from the county and one from another municipality in the urbanized area, which includes parts of Dexter, LeRay and Carthage.

The representative from the municipality will be chosen by the other six members of the council.

Municipalities in the urbanized area, whose shape was determined by a computer algorithm, run the risk of forfeiting federal transportation funding if they fail to put an MPO in place by the end of March.

The Board of Legislators General Services Committee voted unanimously to approve membership in the council.

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