In an editorial, the Daily Times has called for state restoration of Highway User Revenues to local governments.
The piece focuses on the funding plight of Wicomico County, as an illustration of what has happened since the state redirected nearly all county roadway distributions for FY10 and beyond. The argument, looking through Wicomico County, is compelling:
Maryland, facing its own budget challenges, stopped returning to its county governments all the money collected at the gas pump for a state highway tax. That money, which was supposed to provide a revenue stream dedicated to maintaining county roads, traditionally had constituted the bulk of Wicomico’s roads funding. It’s been a rough decade.
The Times concludes that restoring that local share is the best avenue to make good on the taxpayer expectations for public roadways:
Well-kept roads are important on several levels. At the most basic level, smooth roads are attractive and send a message to all, both visitor and resident, that their government is paying attention to the public good.
Properly maintained roads also save money for motorists, decreasing wear and tear on vehicles. And roads that are free of potholes and bumps, and have been freshly painted, are safer to use.
It’s time for the state to give some— ideally most — of that money back to its rightful owner, where it’s desperately needed.