Local Road Money Gets “A Little Boost” In State Budget

Coverage today by Capital News Service discusses the one-time funding being provided for county and municipal governments in the developing state budget for FY 2012, noting “Maryland counties and municipalities are set to receive a one-time $13.2 million infusion to help maintain and repair battered roads, under spending plans recently approved by the House and Senate.”

From coverage in the Herald-Mail:

The state’s portion of the funds it gives to local governments has dropped from about $555 million to an estimated $137 million between fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2012, according to legislative analysts.

Under the recently-approved one-time grant, Maryland’s 157 municipalities are set to receive an extra $8.2 million for road projects on top of the $1.6 million they were originally allocated.

The state’s 23 counties will split an additional $5 million on top of the $8.2 million originally allocated under the state’s formula for highway user revenue.

“This is important for municipalities that have really been shortchanged the past several years and are in desperate need of those funds,” said Sen. James DeGrange, an Anne Arundel Democrat and a key Senate budget writer. “The counties also need a little boost and this will help.”

Lawmakers have chipped away at the amount given to local governments for roads since 2008, but in fiscal 2010, the state Board of Public Works slashed highway user revenue funding for most local jurisdictions by roughly 95 percent, according to the Maryland Association of Counties.

The General Assembly made the reductions permanent in 2010 and also tweaked the funding distribution formula to reduce local governments’ share of highway user revenue from 30 percent to about 9 percent.

With both chambers’ passed budgets agreeing on this funding amount, these distributions appear to be resolved and not likely to be debated further in the final days of the budget process. A conference committee is convening today to start working out the final proposed budget, a process that traditionally focuses nearly exclusively on “issues of difference” where the two chambers have disagreed.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties

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