Washington County Officials Discuss Legislative Priorities – Disparity Grant, Highway User Revenues

The General Assembly’s Washington County delegation met with the Washington County Board of Commissioners, elected officials from the City of Hagerstown, and school board members to discuss legislative priorities for the upcoming session.  A priority of the delegation over the past few years has been expanding the number of counties that benefit through the disparity grant program, a state wealth-based grant distributed according to a formula to counties with per-capita income-tax revenues of less than 75 percent of the state average. Discussions indicate that Washington County will again receive funding in fiscal 2015 due to the changes made to the program last session.  From the Hagerstown Herald-Mail:

The county received $1.55 million in disparity grant money during the current fiscal year after delegation members campaigned hard for it during the 2013 session of the Maryland General Assembly.

Serafini, R-Washington, said that “leaders in Annapolis” had told him that the funding formulas for the grant would remain the same for the next year. He said that the county should expect to get about $1.5 million again during fiscal 2015, which begins on July 1, 2014.

While the county agenda appears to be fairly light this session, county officials did raise the importance of Highway User Revenues (HUR) with delegation members.

In his briefing, County Administrator Greg Murray said that the county will be monitoring legislation as it pops up in Annapolis, but “we don’t have anything major we are asking for this year.”

However, he noted that the state’s Highway User Revenue funds had dropped from more than $10 million annually in previous years to less than a million dollars. The money is used by local jurisdictions to finance road-improvement projects.

“Anything that can be done always helps,” Murray said.