The Local and Regional Transportation Funding Task Force held its first meeting on September 13 to begin discussing regional transit financing, local-option transportation revenue and finance options for raising additional funds to support regional and local transportation systems across the State. The Task Force, appointed pursuant to HB 1515, Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013 (Ch. 429, Acts of 2013), must report its findings and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly by December 15, 2013. MACo is represented on the group by its President, Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt, and Lonnie Robbins, Chief Administrative Officer for Howard County.
During the first meeting, the Department of Legislative Services (DLS)provided an overview of the following:
- State and local transportation funding in Maryland, which highlighted the significant reduction in Highway User Revenues (HUR) to local governments in FY 2010;
- Impact of HUR reductions on local transportation spending;
- Local government structure and services provided at the county and municipal level; and
- Local taxing authority and revenue sources.
A recent blog post on Conduit Street speaks specifically to HUR reductions and a greater reliance by a majority of counties on property tax revenues to fund local roadways.
Following DLS, a representative from High Point Consulting Group provided a national overview of funding approaches for local and regional highway and transit investment. In her comments, the consultant stated that 15 states have authorized local option gas taxes, however, most do not implement them. There are concerns with effects across county lines. The consultant also offered that local option gas taxes work best when they are on the ballot and tied to specific projects of interest to constituents.
Local transportation funding issues and needs will be discussed at the second meeting of the Task Force, which will be held on October 2 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm in Room 180 of the Lowe House Building. MACo plans to present at this meeting.